Power outages are an unfortunate reality and often strike fast and unexpectedly, leaving employees looking for answers. Often a result of extreme winter or other severe weather, a power outage can leave a workplace without the heat or lights on, and the impact can extend to employees’ homes—and their personal safety.
Employee relations are critical before, during and after a crisis, and HR professionals and leaders can play a pivotal role in helping to protect employees in this time of need. Unfortunately, power outages can create challenges for communicating with employees at the time when information is most critical, so it’s important to prepare accordingly.
This article lists steps that employers can consider to prepare for power outages.
Responding to a crisis can require all hands on deck. Ideally, responsibilities can be shared by a ready team rather than lying with one person. A response team may be able to respond to power outages, in addition to other crises. This team doesn’t need to be comprised purely of leadership, but rather can engage employees of all levels. This team can develop, execute and evaluate an organization’s crisis response.
One of the best ways an employer can prepare for power outages is to create a formal policy. A commonly used policy is an inclement weather policy, which addresses power outages among other weather-related events. When developing policies, employers should include topics such as:
These are example topics for creating an inclement weather policy. When creating policies, employers should consult with local legal counsel for legal advice.
In the event of a power outage, it’s important to have a response ready for use. A plan should address topics such as:
Unfortunately, many employees may lack have access to communication channels such as phone and email if they’re impacted by power outages. Employees should be aware of policies and be prepared to respond, but employers should be proactive and communicate as early as possible. Employers shouldn’t wait until a crisis to ensure that employees are aware of any policies, plans, expectations and resources that address power outages and other crises.
While many employees may be well-equipped to navigate a power outage, others may lack information and safety best practices. Employees should be aware that personal safety should be their top priority during a power outage. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides information on what’s important to know when power goes out unexpectedly.
Employers can educate employees on how to respond to a power outage, addressing topics such as:
While the topics listed above address how to respond to a crisis, employers can also educate employees about taking proactive steps to be even more prepared when disaster strikes. These steps include:
In addition, employers can encourage employees to take care of their health by educating employees about available resources. Consider ensuring employees are aware of resources your organization offers, including mental health support or an employee assistance program (EAP). EAPs can help with mental health or stress counseling, which are important considerations, especially following a disaster.
Employers should consider what factors will affect their workplace, and ensure that employees are aware of how a power outage will impact them. Topics to address include:
These topics highlight a few examples of what employees will likely want to know. However, every organization is different, and employers should carefully evaluate and communicate how any changes will impact employees.
When preparing to navigate a power outage or other crisis, deliberate and thoughtful steps can help mitigate risks for employees and your organization.
For additional employee relations resources, contact The Insurance Market today.