Gone with the Wind: Severe Weather Impacts Work Commute, Productivity

March 11, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Unlike the postal service, snow, rain, winds, and ice are keeping a number of American workers from the swift completion of their appointed duties, according to a new survey sponsored by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated.

According to a press release on the survey results, one-third of full-time employees surveyed who commute to work on a regular basis have had their commute affected by severe weather in the past three months. Of these, 23% have arrived to work late, 16% have had to leave early, 6% were not able to make it to work at all, and 5% chose to work from home rather than attempt to brave the weather. Additionally, Kronos said, among those full-time employees who commute on a regular basis, 61% indicated that severe weather has added time to their usual commute.

Of those whose commute was affected by the severe weather 20% said they have lost pay because of being absent. Fourteen percent reported that their absence has impacted the working schedule of co-workers who have to come to work or stay late in order to cover for them.

Forty-four percent of respondents who reported the severe weather has affected their ability to commute to or from work in the past three months said extreme weather has impacted their work schedule, 39% citing a loss in productivity. In part, the loss of productivity may be attributed to the activities employees are engaging in while at the office during severe storms, Kronos said in the release.

Full-time employees who commute on a regular basis reported discussing the weather with co-workers (76%), watching the weather through a window (73%), and spending time seeking alternate arrangements for child care, travel, etc. (17%) while at work.

The good news is 87% of employees indicated that their boss/supervisor is usually understanding when severe weather is the cause for missing work, and almost half (45%) of all respondents say their workplace has closed for either a full or partial day because of severe weather.

“Workplaces around the country are feeling the impact of the recent severe weather,” said Joyce Maroney, director of the Workforce Institute, in the release. “Whether it’s trying to find employees to cover a shift on the day of a big storm, the need to make a snap decision on whether to close or remain open, or dealing with the larger-than-usual number of employees working from home who are over-burdening the network – the weather is having a real affect on daily operations.”

“Extreme Weather Wreaking Havoc on Employee Attendance” was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Kronos Incorporated between January 14 and 16, 2008, among 2810 U.S. adults aged 18 and over, of whom 1,529 were employed full-time and among whom 1,472 commute to work on a regular basis.

A video of people talking about extreme weather impacting their commute and working life is at http://www.workforceinstitute.org/extreme-weather-commute.htm/ .