Barbie Winterbottom is the CEO of the Business of HR.
As HR professionals, we have a lengthy checklist as it relates 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 phone numbers to detailed communication plans to key vendors.
However, as we get into summer and hurricane season kicks into high gear, we are reminded of one often-forgotten area that always needs to have 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 the overall disaster recovery and business continuity plans all employers must develop. The pay part primarily concerns payroll teams and their systems and processes, but also involves coordination with IT and, of course, HR.
As we experienced during the global pandemic, in times of emergency, most Americans don't have enough enough savings to cover a large unexpected cost or being out of work due to business shut-downs. 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 can find themselves in dire straits, struggling to afford potential life-saving items from food to medicine to a generator. Hurricanes, floods, wildfires and other catastrophes like them 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 our staff during these challenging times and do what we can to help them and their families stay safe. So it's imperative that workers not only timely receive their earned pay, but also any amounts we 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 such as a hurricane can seem like an impossible task. But any delay in pay could place employees, a company's greatest asset, in a potentially harmful predicament.
The safest and most efficient alternative comes through on-demand pay technology, developed to allow both employees to instantly access their earned amounts and employers to seamlessly push additional amounts out 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 waiting for either a physical check in the mail or having to pick up cash or a debit card at some employer-arranged distribution spot.
One takeaway from the global pandemic is that advances in technology can often not only make things easier, but also make our daily lives safer. As on-demand pay has transformed from a nice benefit to an essential one, the technology gives employers the wherewithal to immediately help workers during a time of critical need. In the darkest times — it can be a life-saver.