Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Winter Wonderland? How to Prepare for Snow Days

In British Columbia we’ve just recently received our first snow fall which has covered our roads making the commute into work a potentially dangerous time. Snow-covered, icy roads can present a barrier for many in keeping business going as usual however, by providing employees with a “snow day plan” you can help keep them safe and the company productive.

Here are some helpful tips to implement your winter commute program:

Plan Ahead
Don’t let employees become anxious over the snowfall by neglecting to plan ahead. Make sure you address “snow day protocol” before the first snowfall of the season. Look at the weather forecast and address concerns in advance.

Get the Message Out
There are many options for spreading the word such as posting snow plans on your internal company website and lunch rooms or other common spaces; utilizing email broadcasts; addressing procedures during team meetings; and having a contact network or phone line with “snow day updates.” The best way to get the message out will depend on your organization’s structure/size and the communication tools available. If you are having trouble deciding on the best method, ask your employees for suggestions. Use multiple methods if necessary.

Emphasize Safety
The main reason for planning for snow days is to ensure the safety of your company’s number one asset: the people. Ensure to communicate this message clearly to employees.

Provide Work Alternatives
If you’re able to, provide staff with work alternatives so that they won’t get behind and won’t feel pressured to come into the office on dangerous roads. If employees work on laptops, these can be brought home the night prior to an expected snowfall. By providing databases which can be accessed from a distance this will ensure little disruption. If staff doesn’t use computers, cannot bring laptops home, or cannot access files/databases remotely, allow employees to bring home paper files or other necessary work. Think of projects which can be worked on outside of the office (e.g., research projects).

Be Understanding
Above all else, be understanding. Not everyone has access to snow-ready vehicles or reliable transit routes, and school closures may impact child care responsibilities.

By utilizing these strategies you can remove the stress surrounding snow days and foster engagement.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Celebrating the Holiday Season With Your Work Team

Tradition is defined by dictionary.com as “a customary or characteristic method or manner.”[1] At Life Strategies we have several holiday traditions that bring us together as a team. Each year, around December, we get together to go out to an event. In my time working with Life Strategies we have gone to a Pantomime play in White Rock, BC (something we’ll be doing again this year), attended a Christmas concert at the Red Robinson Theatre, and celebrated the season on a Christmas carol ship. Our annual holiday event is a great time to get together as a team to relax and appreciate one another for the work done throughout the year.

In addition to our annual event, the Life Strategies team gets involved with several charities. Early in November, Life Strategies’ team members contributed to the Samaritan’s Purse: Operation Christmas Child which involves filling a shoe box or plastic container with toys and living essentials for children in need. We also work together, clearing out our closets and prepping for a Clothing and Toy Giveaway in Coquitlam, BC, that reaches out to individuals of all ages to provide clothes, food, toys, and items for the home (see below for a picture of all the donations received this year). Another favourite Life Strategies’ tradition is to donate to World Vision. World Vision makes donating simple by providing a catalogue and ordering online

Likely many workplaces have one holiday tradition or another. During this busy time of year, such traditions can be a great way to keep employee engagement going. If you’re organization doesn’t participate in any holiday traditions, try starting something simple (such as a baking trade-off where everyone brings baked-goods to work and swaps amongst one another to get a variety of baked-goods to take home). I find our workplace holiday traditions are a great way to pump up energy and increase productivity.

[1] http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/tradition
[2] https://catalogue.worldvision.ca/gifts/Forms/preHome.aspx?mc=3221603&lang=en