With three-quarters of Queensland now officially declared as a disaster zone, the intensifying flooding is set to impact a growing number of businesses across the state as business has rapidly grinded to a halt.
Given the growing severity of the floods across the south-east in particular, employers must be quick to consider plans for employee safety and their business recovery, according to Paula Maidens, Managing Director of Recruitment Coach, a people management coaching and consulting firm for small-medium businesses.
Ms. Maidens recommends implementing a few simple measures to minimise the effects of the flooding on both businesses and their staff, focusing on safety first. Ms. Maidens offers the following 5 tips for businesses to cope during the flooding disaster:
1. Advise staff to think of safety first, commercial effects second
“With many roads expected to flood in the south-east within the coming days, businesses should advise their staff to think of safety first, economic effects second, when it comes to any attempts to get into work,” said Ms. Maidens.
Transport is expected to remain difficult during the week, as police recommend delaying non-essential travel through the state, with public transport provider Translink urging south-east commuters to stay home where possible.
2. Keep communication with staff open, with regular planned updates
Keeping communication lines as open as possible is the most important thing for businesses to consider after safety, with Ms. Maidens recommending employers organise and plan regular communication updates with staff to remain in contact. Conference calls, online meetings or webinars, as well as regular emails can be effective for keeping everyone in the business updated on both business plans and staff situations and expectations, where employees still have access to their phones or the internet.
3. Keep up to date with employees’ situations
With communication open, employers should remain aware of their staff’s situation in the disasters to ensure they can plan effectively for the recovery and make allowances for staff that are the most affected. With an estimated 20,000 homes likely to be flooded around Brisbane alone, many employees will be unable to return to work immediately.
“Businesses should find out who is most affected by the floods and which employees are in the flood zones. As some staff members will be unable to make it to work for some time, it’s critical that businesses are armed with this information when planning for their business recovery and remain flexible and understanding with leave requests,” said Ms. Maidens.
4. Make the most of time
For those who are not directly affected by the floods, working remotely can provide an excellent opportunity to progress through non-office based work from home. Ms. Maidens recommends encouraging staff that are not affected to consider using the time to plan for the coming quarter, make to-do lists for the recovery or to prepare internet research on future projects or other relevant topics, when their normal role cannot be performed at home.
5. Keep in touch with clients/customers
Although Queensland-based clients and customers are likely to be equally affected by the flooding, Ms. Maidens recommends advising all clients of your business situation and of any contact points to ensure communications are directed away from the staff who are most affected. Keeping clients and customers informed of business conditions will also help your organisation to set expectations around product/service delivery.
While there is no simple solution for employers to minimise their workplace challenges during a disaster, businesses that focus on safety and ensuring regular communication will benefit from a more rapid recovery and from employees that are safe and feel valued by their employer.