A Business Continuity Plan During the Winter That Would Not End

heavy snowfall affects business continuity plans and causes absenteeism

This has been a winter for the record books. Literally. On my recent visit to Boston, I think I saw more snow in one place than I ever have previously.

My friends and colleagues there have had the typical issues coping with school snow days, losing sleep from multiple attempts & methods for snow removal. This is the first winter, however, that I've heard of the following impacts from continued severe weather.

Sleeping at Work

We're not talking sleeping on the job. We're talking about healthcare and other organizations that needed their employees to be at work, regardless of conditions, and so had their employees actually sleep at work rather than go home.

This was necessary because weather conditions made it uncertain whether employees would be able to return to work after leaving.

Patients noticed and appreciated nurses' efforts during the severe weather. One patient told his nurse that she had earned a "ticket to heaven" for being available to provide the care he needed.

Paying to Get to Work

Public transportation shut down in many parts of the Northeast. In cities where the majority of people drive to work, this would have a minimal impact. However, public transportation is how most people get to work in several locations through the Northeast.

And when the trains weren't running and people still had to get to work, options were limited and costly. I read of one "essential" medical professional who spent hundreds of dollars renting a car because the trains were either not running at all or were on a very limited schedule. He had to be at the hospital at his designated time, and renting a car was the only reliable solution.

Rearranging Work Commitments

It's not unheard of for employees to reschedule a conference call due to an unexpected weather event. What was unusual this winter were the specific reasons for rearranging. I heard of colleagues rescheduling work commitments for the following reasons, among others:

  • They needed a Bobcat operator to remove the several feet of snow from their driveway
  • They had to shovel snow off the roof so the house was safe for a child's return from school
  • They had to drive their child to school, day after day, because buses could not operate safely

Back-Up Care and your Business Continuity Plan

Many employers now offer emergency back-up care through Bright Horizons as part of their business continuity plan - plans that certainly went into effect this winter.

Many of my friends in the Northeast have literally lost count of the number of times the weather affected their children's school schedules. Without a ready-made back-up care solution, parents have no choice but to scramble for a solution or stay home from work. It makes for a very stressful situation, for both the employee and the supervisor.

Real Stories From Real Employees

The feedback from parent users of back-up care certainly illustrates the impact you can almost hear their relief while reading:

"Back-up care was a life saver because I found out at the last minute that my son was out of school."

"The program eased a very stressful time weather related delays and early closures."

"The day of our back-up care was a blizzard with over 12" of snow. Despite this, our caregiver arrived on time (at 7:30 a.m.)! I was extremely impressed!"

And, you can imagine the relief their supervisors felt when these employees were able to work as planned. The organizations where these employees work made an investment in back-up care long before the first snowflake fell. It's an investment that paid off this winter, much more than anyone would have anticipated.

No doubt everybody in Boston is feeling the relief of melting snow. But whether it's a blizzard or some other force of nature, it always pays to be prepared. Is your organization ready?

Written by: Bright Horizons Blog Editor

About the Author

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The Bright Horizons Blog Editor frequently posts on the real solutions that meaningfully support employees, advance careers, and drive the world’s leading brands. The Editor curates the latest news, trends, and challenges facing HR pros because your time is scarce. Follow the Bright Horizons Blog to receive this insight in your inbox.