Plan Now for Inclement Weather Communications with Your Employees

Blizzard in Northern VirginiaRemember this?

Just 11 short months ago, the D.C. Metro area was buried under three feet of snow, a storm that was a mere prelude to the multiple large snowfalls of February 2010.

Now I’m not predicting another “Snowmageddon” this winter.  But I do recommend that companies take a few minutes now to pull out their inclement weather policies and update contact lists in preparation for snow and ice.

Here are some key decision points that should be addressed in your policy and plans:

  • What is your policy for closing the business or office during inclement weather?  Do you follow the Federal government’s lead?  Does an executive make that call?  Do you identify “essential personnel” and arrange for lodging at a nearby hotel so those key staff members are available?
  • How do you notify employees of a closure, or that the operation will remain open?  How soon will the decision be made and announced?  Do you have a dedicated inbound phone number with a recording?  Will you contact the local TV or radio station to announce?  Who is going to notify the switchboard or answering service?  Is the staff small enough that you can rely on a calling tree and if so, do all the callers have updated contact info for all staff?
  • Are there opportunities for employees to work remotely?  If not, do you offer flex time where employees can make up lost hours by working a slightly longer shift in the same pay period?

Once you’ve addressed these key points and your policy and procedures are up-to-date, get the word out to your employees so they know what to expect this winter.  Send out an email, post a flyer in the breakroom and/or at the employee entrance, have managers announce at staff meetings, and so on. 

Don’t wait until the first snowfall to address inclement weather issues.  Start preparing – and communicating – now.


About Susan Rink

Susan C. Rink is president and owner of Rink Strategic Communications, LLC ( and presenter of the "Take Note" podcast series (
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