Winter weather up and down the East Coast in early January had many employers closing their workplaces. In California, wildfires made travel perilous. The world certainly seems to be a dangerous place, and an emergency situation could arise at any time.
If you need to close your workplace for any reason, you’ll need to notify your employees. What’s the best possible way to notify employees when an emergency closure takes place?
A Common Question
If you’ve ever asked this question, you’re not alone. It’s a surprisingly common question from business owners and managers alike.
There are actually many different ways you can notify your employees in the event of an emergency workplace closure.
Tried and True: The Phone
Many companies still use their landlines as a way of telling employees about emergency closures and weather alerts.
Those with hotlines often automate the service. Employees are encouraged to call in if they have concerns about getting to the office. Some organizations are working to install this kind of system.
In other organizations, emergency phone trees are employed to reach staff. Managers in each department are notified and then notify their team members. Some companies ensure employees share cellphone numbers.
The New Wave: The Smartphone
Since almost everyone has a smartphone these days and people are rather attached to them, many companies also make use of this technology during an emergency.
Some business owners notify staff via group texts. While small organizations may rely on the owner to relay information, others have automated systems to send text messages.
Some business managers choose to make use of apps. Some, for example, use the group messaging app Slack. They require employees to have the app installed on their phones and include a dedicated channel for weather alerts and emergency closures.
Email and Social Media
Email remains a business staple and most people have email enabled on their phones anyway.
Many companies use a mass mailing to contact their employees in the event of an emergency closure. Of course, contingencies must be made for employees who don’t have access to email. One solution may be to have managers call employees who may not have access or if the employee is known to not read their emails.
Social media is not yet a popular way to notify employees of emergency closures. While some companies do make use of it, it is usually in connection with other notifications.
More Comprehensive Solutions
Some businesses employed a system called Alert Media during Hurricane Harvey last fall. The system has automatic tracking and employees can check in from their mobile devices. Employees who failed to check in or respond could be called. One challenge is ensuring employees provide up-to-date contact information, but in the end, companies felt it was well worth it to know their employees were safe.
You may also use multiple methods to be more comprehensive—send a text while also calling employees directly. Use an automated system for both social media alerts as well as email alerts.
The best method to contact employees is likely a comprehensive method. Email may be an easy way to contact people, but does everyone have access to it? In the event of a power outage, it may be better to call cellphones or dedicated landlines. Social media has similar pitfalls. Not everyone would think to check Twitter.
Make sure your employees know how to find out about emergency closures. Best practice is to employ two or more methods of contact so you can ensure everyone receives the message and stays safe.