Wednesday July 15, 2015
Being a Florida native, this time of year I think about business contingency planning. It’s hurricane season. Those who are prepared often have less losses and a quicker recovery; those who aren’t prepared are at the mercy of the elements. And their insurance company.
The odds of a hurricane hitting a particular city in Florida at some time during the hurricane season are pretty good. But the odds of a hurricane hitting on a particular day are remote. And the odds of a hurricane hitting every day are zero. That’s why contingency planning is important; it’s the plan for how to manage IF a hurricane strikes, while allowing business as usual all the rest of the time.
It would be kind of silly for an employer to operate every day of the year as if a hurricane were making landfall outside their door. They would be hunkered down. The same can be true of employers who treat every employee like a potential bad apple, a lawsuit waiting to happen, a potential claim, or an entitled abuser. The vast majority of employees just aren’t that, so hunkering down as if they are is kind of silly. That’s why you need a contingency plan for people management issues. A contingency plan means you are prepared for when the rare negative circumstance becomes current reality. Think about having a contingency plan for these 7 people issues:
- Workplace Accidents. Since it may be rare, supervisors and those who may have to handle a workplace accident need to know how to report the accident, where to send the employee for treatment if needed, how to investigate the accident (or have it investigated), and how and who to communicate to.
- Return to Work. Whether it’s after a workplace accident, or a non-work-related accident, the time to figure out how to work with work restrictions is before it’s needed. By preparing in advance, you’re ready.
- OSHA. Surprise visits happen in some industries more than others. If OSHA shows up at your door, you need a plan in place so that everyone knows how to respond and who to call. Hint – don’t be difficult. Cooperation is key and will directly impact fines.
- EEOC. Ideally, employees who feel that illegal discrimination is occurring would come to you and exhaust their administrative remedy before going outside. When that doesn’t happen and you get a notice from the EEOC, you need to have a plan for who will respond to it. The clock will be ticking so don’t procrastinate. You will need to be able to pull a lot of data fast and articulate a response. So make sure now that data is accessible then.
- Department of Labor. You’ll also need a lot of data if the Department of Labor shows up to do a wage and hour audit. Hopefully you will have prevented a lot of problems with time and attendance records and supervisory training. Once the DOL shows up though, you move into a different mode. You need to know who is going to be the point of contact and how they are going to respond.
- Sexual Harassment. If someone complains about any kind of sexual harassment, you have a legal duty as the employer to investigate, take appropriate action, prevent reoccurrence, and prevent retaliation. And you must be timely. It’s way easier to figure out how you will do those things in advance rather than reacting after sexual harassment raises its ugly head.
- Poor Work Performance. If you fail to confront poor performance, you’re in essence condoning it. Silence = acquiescence. Timeliness and recency are your friends. If you stockpile issues, the procrastination makes it all the more difficult. Make it your plan to practice skillful confrontation whenever the need presents itself. Policies and forms should all be part of your contingency plan.
There are plenty of other people issues that you can create contingency plans around. Be prepared, but don’t live every day as if a very real employment-related risk is going to materialize and derail everything. At Open Door HR Solutions, we create strategies to help organizations get preparred for and respond to these kinds of issues. The beauty of contingency planning is that once you have a plan in place to fall back on, you don’t have to fear the issue as much. And you can have more fun doing what you went into business to do.