The recent flooding in the Baton Rouge and Acadiana areas was devastating to many people in our community. The floodwaters have receded, but the damage left behind is daunting. As south Louisiana knows, however, things can seem insurmountable until they aren’t. Rebuilding and recovery will happen; they’ll just take time.
If your organization had many affected employees, you’re likely seeing some lingering effects from the damage. Employees may be experiencing grief or trauma, they may be frustrated at the pace of rebuilding, and they may look to you for help.
Here’s what your organization can do to assist employees who’ve been affected by this disaster.
Without a doubt, the most important thing you can do as an employer is to be understanding and flexible.
Employees will probably have some scheduling issues come up as a result of the flood. As an employer, you should be as accommodating as their roles will allow. Adjust start or end times, allow shift-switching among employees or offer any other assistance you can because they may be facing the following issues:
The number of sources offering assistance or requesting information from your employees can be overwhelming, and workers may be lacking in resources to research all their options for recovery. You can help by providing that information in a simple packet or folder. A list of common organizations with contact information and services provided can be invaluable. Helpful rebuilding tips or information about taking care of oneself after a disaster will also be appreciated. Some ideas:
If your organization has an employee assistance program, there’s no better time to highlight it to the staff. If you don’t have one, consider offering one. EAPs provide myriad services and advice, from mental health counseling to legal advice and financial planning, all of which may be needed after this disaster. Often a first consultation with any type of service from the EAP is free, with a few consultations after that at a reduced cost. This is a benefit your employees will truly appreciate right now.
It’s still hard to comprehend just how much was lost in the flood, but you can bet people weren’t evacuating into boats with their laptops and home printers. Employees have likely lost some key documentation they’ll need to provide to FEMA or other assistance organizations. They may need you to reprint W-2s or pay stubs so they can prove their income. They may need somewhere to print missing documents, or just a quiet place to fill out paperwork or talk on the phone. Consider dedicating a spare desk or phone line for employees who need to use a break or lunch hour to handle some business.
Employees who were not directly affected by the flood likely want a way to help their co-workers. If you don’t already have one, consider creating a PTO donation program in which employees can reduce their own PTO bank by a few hours to increase someone else’s. Flooded employees will likely appreciate some stability in their income.
An in-house food or clothing drive could be helpful. You can also host a fundraiser to buy uniforms or school supplies for flooded employees’ children. Everyone can pay a small fee to receive a fun reward, such as the privilege to wear jeans to work one day or to toss a water balloon at the boss.
If there are employees who now need rides to work, consider a sign-up sheet with other employees volunteering to pick them up or take them home.
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