Dispute ruining your commute?

Tuesday February 7, 2017

If you and/or your team rely on Southern Rail to get to work, this really hasn’t been your week. Hundreds of trains have been cancelled, many of which are during peak travel times – a real nightmare for passengers. It’s down to a dispute between the RMT Union and rail bosses over a whole range of issues, including whose responsibility it will be to open and close the doors in the future. The strikes have now been called off for the 11th and 12th of August, but they’re likely to start again if discussions are unproductive.

Suffering passengers bear much of the brunt from the dispute. They’re not just delayed and inconvenienced beyond their control, but are also much more stressed and uncomfortable when they do arrive at work. Some commuters are being left out of pocket too, as the strikes force them to seek alternative transport at their own cost.

Strikes like the one this week are by no means new, and do not just impact London and the South East. They can happen anywhere, and just about all businesses are at the mercy of the transport links that surround them.  Businesses left short staffed, without key personnel or with employees disgruntled by painful journeys face difficulties that will only become trickier throughout the duration of a dispute.

Would you say your business is at risk from transport strike action? Good HR can minimise it, here’s how.

  • Where your team works. Strikes are usually planned ahead of time, so businesses should have plenty of warning before a strike commences. Make the most of this to plan alternative travel with your team by promoting a car share or cycle to work scheme (though this may not work for everyone). Home working is an alternative solution. If they can work remotely for a period of time with the right equipment you could minimise the impact of the disruption on your productivity. Make sure your IT and home working policies are in place first though!
  • Tackling stress. There are few worse ways to start a morning than being late to work due to circumstances beyond your control. And in the case of travel disruption it is not helped by being squashed onto a hot train when one does finally come along. It can push some people’s stress levels to the limit and ultimately affect performance. Allowing staff to work flexi-time could be the perfect solution giving them the chance to work their hours whilst avoiding peak travel times.
  • Empathy. The key to supporting your team through travel disruption is to be understanding of both the situation and each individual’s personal circumstance within it. Some may be missing time with family, some may be suffering from claustrophobia on the train or bus. Take each case as it comes and try to balance their individual needs with that of your business using HR.

It’s a difficult situation for all parties, but clever HR will get you through it. So prepare ahead! For even more serious problems, a full disaster recovery plan would be a real investment for the future. The HR Dept is there to support you.

Preventing People Problems

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