Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Snow Day Dilema- What's the Right Thing To Do?

A snow storm (blizzard) is imminent here in NY. Thousands of businesses are struggling to decide whether to open, close, leave early or stay the course. Hundreds of thousands of workers are waiting with anxiety on their businesses decision.
If you remember a year ago, hundreds of individuals were stranded on major highways and side streets in Suffolk county during a snow event. The governor has already told folks to use mass transit and stay off the roads tonight as he may close the Long Island Expressway to allow snow removal and avoid last years catastrophe.
This is also the first time in 13 yrs. that I am not personally responsible to either make the call for what to do for closing the business I worked for, or as I did in my last role, communicate it for executive leadership. I can tell you first hand that weather is so unpredictable that the best intentions sometimes end up with bad results. During Sandy in 2012 (the Nor'easter Hurricane), we didn't close our NY offices...that one was against my personal recommendation, but you do what your told to do. Luckily we only had 4 people make it that day on long island, and a few in nyc. I was one of them. Most of the employees were smart and used the right judgement. I had 3 partners curse at me for opening and it took weeks to regain employees trust (only after doing a ton of good will things after for those without power or shelter). In my opinion it was the wrong decision, but it wasn't my dog so I did as I was told after arguing the point. At Leviton we were pretty good and usually made the right calls on opening, closing and shutting early. There we also had the 9/11 event and the New York  blackout of several summers back. The owners truly put people first and employees responded by taking care of the company to catch up quickly.
When I worked in retail the theory was: a day lost was never made up. I thought and still think that is one of the most ridiculous statements in business. Where does your employee and customer safety factor into the equation?

So here is my personal advice on a snow situation:
Listen to your government officials, close early or close if its suggested. Let your employees work remotely if they can (lets be honest if there is a foot plus of snow, they will be shoveling out their home and cars anyway - and so will your clients). Treat your employees safely first, let them leave if their afraid of driving or commuting in bad weather, or to get family members home safely. Have liberal pay policies, your employees pay it back when you treat them right.
Don't be a martyr, do what I did this year, get a couple of dvd.s, go to the gym before the weather gets bad to burn a few calories, stock up the fridge, and  work from home on your pc and phone....

Stay safe and enjoy the snow!

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