How to manage employees when temperatures soar

Wednesday December 13, 2017

The mercury is edging up to 40 degrees across Australia, in the worst heatwave in over half a century!

It can be hard for staff to concentrate in the sweltering conditions, especially as the hot weather is predicted to go on for another few days at least.

Here are some tips to help you get through the heatwave:

“It’s too hot to work, you have to send us home!”
In this weather, you need to carry out a risk assessment. This should look at the environment, type of work being carried out and the impact on any staff with particular needs – such as a pregnant employee or someone with medical conditions.  You should then address any issues. For example, could outside workers start earlier or later to avoid the midday sun?

Faced with employees arguing that wearing a low-cut dress and flipflops will keep them cool when it’s ‘too hot’?
It is definitely time to relax the dress code a little, but standards of decency must be maintained. No very short skirts or shorts. We suggest casual, smart, loose-fitting clothing, and a temporary relaxing of suits and ties so that the company image is maintained.  People do silly things in the sun, so watch out for staff failing to wear protective clothing to keep cool. It is not cool to land in the hospital! High-factor suncream for those working outside seems a sensible approach.

Is your fan just another object in the office which blends in but remains untouched?
Use it, and try keeping blinds closed, moving people away from direct sunlight and having the windows open. Have plenty of cold water available so staff remain hydrated.

Jumping to conclusions regarding an employee’s sickness absence on a hot sunny day could be unfair.
The warm weather generally increases the risk of sickness, especially sunstroke or hayfever. As we always recommend, you should carry out a return-to-work interview.

Small gestures can go a long way.
Why not use the heat as an opportunity to boost morale? Simply buying your employees each an ice cream, or a cold canned drink at lunch could boost staff morale. It may even make them see you as the best manager ever! A great, easy motivational tool to have at hand when you catch a slump in performance.

Although some employees may believe a bit of sun relaxes the workplace rules, you need to manage consistently and fairly.

If you require support, The HR Dept is here to help. Contact your local office today.

Preventing People Problems

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