If it’s “the most wonderful time of the year,” that feeling can quickly dissipate if you’re trying to complete end-of-year work. As employees hurry to finish tasks before taking time off, it can be difficult to keep everyone aligned. For safety managers, knowing who is out, who is onsite, and how emergency procedures will shift can be next to impossible.
The logistics of your operations and security may change during the holidays, but there are certain things you can do to keep a consistent, resilient infrastructure. If you’re trying to figure out how to safeguard your operations and workforce over the holidays, here are some procedural tips.
- Keep Employees in the Loop Ahead of Time - If your team understands your priorities in advance, they’re more likely to be communicative. If you make an organized effort to bring them into your decision-making and high-level goals, they can play an active part in helping you prepare. Schedule a couple of short meetings before the holidays to get everyone on the same page, and collect their plans for backup when they’re out. If certain key personnel are responsible for emergency response, where will they delegate their responsibilities? Has everyone submitted their PTO schedule to you in advance?
- Create Systems of Confirmation - When personnel are out of office, they’re also likely to be out of reach. Create systems to understand whether your communications are being received. For example, AtHoc Account maintains a guaranteed message delivery system, with direct support for multiple forms of wired, wireless, direct, and social media channels. You’ll be able to understand in real-time where your messages are going, and whether they’ve reached their destination.
- Tap In To Your Pool of Contractors and Part-Time Workers - If you’re operating a site that needs continued support during the holidays, it’s a good idea to keep a pool of contractors, part-timers, and backup help that you can tap into. When you’re losing large amounts of staff to holiday travel, you can reach out to your part-time help to understand their availability. Many companies even create job postings and safety procedures for seasonal hires.
- Automate Where You Can - If you have stores of information that need to be manually altered or updated, find a way to automate this information. You don’t want to be using out-of-date phone numbers to contact people, or antiquated emergency procedures in the face of an unexpected crisis. Instead, look for platforms and technology that allow you to gain key insight into personnel accountability, including:
- Where staff members are
- What resources are available across pertinent locations
- Which tasks have been accepted or completed
- Who is assigned to a task
- What data has been updated
Up-to-the-minute accountability becomes an active resource for your organization. If you can plug into data-based accountability information, you’ll be better able to assess how individuals, sites, and departments are operating over the holidays.
- Stagger Your Staffing - You don’t want to take away well-deserved holiday time from your personnel. But if you can’t close or reduce operations over the holidays, make sure you stagger your staffing. It may require that some staff work nights, or partial-weeks, or work later into the holiday season but return to work later than others. If you plan in advance, you can have constant coverage while still allowing people the vacation time they need.
Personnel accountability is a challenge that’s faced across many sectors. Luckily, there are precedents for establishing better accountability routines. For example, firefighters have an urgent need to account for all team members in hazardous situations. Even when a team member has to leave an assigned post to get equipment, return to a truck, or attend to an injured person, accountability is essential.
Whether you’re in the emergency response sector or not, you can take cues from emergency teams like firefighters, where accountability is critical. We’ve learned that accountability can fail in two ways: planning and execution. To make sure you’re on track, think about the following questions:
- What roles are needed over the holidays?
- What limitations are there surrounding those roles?
- How will we handle responses that need to scale up the chain of command?
- Where should we report an incident?
- What resources can be used?
- How are we changing performance measurement?
- Which supervisors are available?
- How will we monitor staff for cohesion and continuity?
- How will we communicate?
- Where is contact information stored and accessed?
- How are we handling check-ins?
- How are we communicating when tasks and shifts are completed?
- In an emergency, would displaced employees know where to find information and how to relay their status and needs back to the organization?
These questions will serve as the core of your personnel accountability over the holidays. They can inform your success when employees are offsite and irregular operations occur.