Benefits and Compensation

Do You Have a Plan in Place to Pay Your Staff in the Event of a Natural Disaster?

As HR professionals, we have a lengthy checklist when it comes to creating a business continuity plan in the event of a natural disaster such as a hurricane, flood, or wildfire. We secure everything from an updated database of employee mobile phones to detailed communication plans to key vendors.

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However, as we get into summer and hurricane season kicks into high gear, we are reminded of one often-forgotten area that always needs an action plan in times of emergencies: pay.

Ensuring workers can continue to get paid under the most difficult of circumstances is a key part of a disaster recovery and business continuity plan. The pay part primarily concerns payroll teams and their systems and processes, but it also involves coordination with IT and, of course, HR.

As we experienced during the pandemic, in times of emergency, most Americans don’t have enough savings to cover a large unexpected cost or being out of work due to business shutdowns. In a study done earlier this year, only 39% of Americans could cover a $1,000 unexpected expense.

So when Mother Nature’s ferocity strikes, most Americans might find themselves in dire straits, struggling to afford potential lifesaving items like food, medicine, or a generator. Hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and other catastrophes will often leave people without electricity/heat for days—or potentially without a home for an extended amount of time.

Employers have a responsibility to be there for their staff during these challenging times and do what they can to help them and their families stay safe. So it’s imperative that workers timely receive not only their earned pay but also any amounts employers may provide, often based on the most recent full payday, to keep them whole through the crisis.

For companies, payroll disbursement during a natural disaster can be an impossible task. Any delay in pay could place employees, a company’s greatest asset, in a potentially harmful predicament.

The safest and most efficient alternative is on-demand pay technology, developed to allow employees to instantly access their earned amounts and to allow employers to seamlessly give additional amounts to employees when they deem it necessary. Staff will always have money at the right time for their needs, providing a lifeline by allowing access to money at the click of a button instead of having to wait for a physical check in the mail or to pick up cash or a debit card at some employer-arranged distribution spot.

One takeaway from the pandemic is that advances in technology can not only make things easier but also make us safer when used properly. As on-demand pay has transformed from a nice benefit to an essential one, the technology gives employers the wherewithal to immediately help their workers during a time of critical need. In the darkest times, it can be a lifesaver.

Barbie Winterbottom is the CEO of The Business of HR.