Business Continuity and the Winter Games

Chicago: 4, Boston: 2

Those aren't hockey scores. They're winter stats, specifically the number of days Boston and Chicago schools were closed due to weather during the first 30 days of 2014.

For those keeping score at home, that's Mother Nature 6, working parents 0.

Losses in Business Continuity

While children are doing the happy dance (again), parents - and the people they work for - are, shall we say, less ebullient. There are of course the general challenges of being repeatedly snowed in (as those of us who've been there can attest, there are just so many card games one can play). But there's also the little matter of work, or lack thereof. No school means no work!and no profits. And business continuity losses are no small thing.

In "Absenteeism: The Bottom Line Killer," Circadian says garden-variety absences cost employers $2,650 per salaried employee per year ; even more for hourly workers. Generalize that to a company completely shuttered because of weather, and you've got a real problem. Further emphasizing the point, John Challenger of Challenger, Gray, and Christmas told ABC News in Chicago in January that employers stand to lose as much as $5 billion this winter in productivity alone.

Response Strategies

With so much at stake, there's a lot to be said for abiding by that old Boy Scout chestnut - be prepared. For employers, that means a plan - one that lays out everything from who needs to physically report, to the chain of command for those working by remote, to how to enable critical people to physically get where they need to go. The latter means back-up care. After all, for parents with small children home from school, snow is only one obstacle to reaching the job. Finding child care is another. And dramatic stories like this during a previous storm provide unequivocal illustrations of why back-up care matters.

Looking Ahead: How Are You Preparing Your Business for the Next Storm?

Just this week, much of the country was cleaning up from Maximus just as Niko roared into town.  We won't even discuss the as-yet-unnamed Nor'easter threatening the forecast. And we feel compelled to give a shout out to these two creative educators who put a little levity into what was for parents in Kentucky another "oh-no" day.

It might be tempting to tap-dance from one event to another, or to optimistically figure that living in, say, Atlanta, will protect you from things like snow. But experience shows that's a faulty strategy. By the end of this week, Mother Nature's Chicago/Boston snow-day score is likely to go up by at least one. And these days, when the term Polar Vortex is but one of the new epic-storm phrases in our weather vocabulary, you just never know what kind of shot she's going to take next.

The Bright Horizons Care Advantage program provides access to child and adult/elder care whenever regular arrangements break down - including during snow days - saving employers hundreds of thousands of days annually.

Visit http://solutionsatwork.brighthorizons.com/Back-Up-Care to learn more. 

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.