Are your employees prepared to weather a storm?  As Hurricane Sandy rushes toward the mid-Atlantic area today, many companies across the area are telling their workforces to stay home.  But is that enough?  Certainly, employers should be concerned about their employees’ physical well-being, keeping them off the roads and updated on the availability of nearby shelters that employees can go to in case of flooding.  But what about their financial well-being? 

If this storm lives up to its nickname of the Frankenstorm of this Halloween week, the frightening fact is that it could impact close to 50 million people in the most heavily populated part of the U.S. in the mid-Atlantic states.  Once the power goes out, and it is predicted it could be out for several days, those employees who are living paycheck to paycheck could be in serious financial trouble.  Banks could be closed, ATM machines won’t be working, and stores – if they are open at all – will only be able to accept cash.  Here are some tips that can help your workforce avoid a scare this Halloween from the Frankenstorm:

  • Sign up for direct deposit:  No matter how bad the weather is, employees can rest assured that their paycheck will be deposited on payday.
  • Have cash available:  Before the severe weather hits, it is a good idea to pull out a few hundred dollars from your emergency fund and have cash on hand to last at least a week for gas and groceries.  Cash is king when the power is out and credit cards won’t work.
  • Set up online bill-pay:  Even if phone and Internet access is out, and the roads are blocked by trees and debris, bills still need to be paid.  By setting up automated bill-pay with their bank, employees can avoid getting hit with late fees on their accounts.
  • Clarify your time-off policy:  Will employees be paid if the office is closed due to the storm?  Having to go a few days off the clock can be devastating to employees who are counting on their next paycheck to pay the bills.  This is why it is also important for them to have funds set aside in an emergency savings account.
  • Review insurance coverage:  Employees should have their health insurance card readily available in case someone gets hurt.  It is also a good idea to have contact information and the declaration page from their homeowner’s and auto insurance handy for any damages that may occur.

Once the storm has passed, remind employees of any employee benefit that they may have access to, such as a financial helpline or EAP program if they have experienced a financial loss. With these steps, the Frankenstorm can be a little less scary for your employees.