Yesterday’s snow has created chaos in the metro Atlanta area. Read this article for a taste of what we are going through here in Duluth, Georgia. Commuters are still on the road after leaving the workplace yesterday afternoon.
Here at HR Strategies, we are working though the snow and ice to make sure we meet the needs of our clients. Our employees who are closest to the office are already there working and all other employees are working remotely from home. We have a Disaster Recovery Plan put in place that prepares us for situations like today. As it doesn’t look like it will be warming up anytime soon, our clients can rest easy knowing that, just like the snow storm of 2011, we will be there for them all the way through.
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While HR Strategies does provide payroll services, payroll is just one of the many responsibilities we take care of for our clients. However, when it comes to payroll, we will go to any length to make sure our clients and worksite employees get their payroll on time.
HR Strategies Delivers All Payroll On Time During Week-Long Ice Storm
With HR Strategies powerful integrated on-site support and personal service, clients can rest assured that the responsibilities of payroll have been handled completely and accurately, even in the most adverse conditions. In February 2011, a large portion of Georgia, and therefore Metro Atlanta, experienced heavy snow and extreme winter conditions which are unusual for the area. Metro Atlanta, including Duluth where HR Strategies is headquartered, is not used to extreme winter conditions and can easily have its roads and infrastructure crippled by large amounts of snow. The snow storm that affected Georgia in February of 2011 was dubbed “snowpocalypse”, and caused many school and business closings for several days. While employees may have enjoyed having a few extra days at home, they still needed to get their scheduled paychecks. Employers were already worried about loss of revenue from being closed for business, and the thought of having disgruntled employees from a delay in payroll was an added worry on their shoulders.
HR Strategies understood the need for client employees to be paid, and the need for the client to have one less business concern during the stress of an unforeseen circumstance prohibiting business and life “as usual”. On the Friday before the big storm, HR Strategies staff came together and devised a plan to ensure that payroll processes, and all other client needs, would be met in case of inclement weather. On Monday, when it seemed that the world had closed down in Georgia, HR Strategies was armed and ready for business as usual. Beginning that morning, payroll specialists were busy getting to work, only this time it was in their homes. The entire staff took advantage of their ability to work remotely and were able to continue business as usual, to the best of their abilities from home. Payroll specialists took hours over their cell phones from clients, ran the processes and reports, sent direct deposit and bank files, all from home. They were able to keep in contact with each other and the rest of HR Strategies staff through conference calls, and ensure that all clients were handled. The owner and CEO of HR Strategies, along with one designated payroll specialist, was able to make it to the office to pick up live checks and reports that had generated to be packaged for clients. These live checks were then hand delivered by the owner to the client locations, as most courier services (i.e. FedEx, UPS) were not operating on time or at all during the extreme conditions. Over the next three days HR Strategies continued to make sure that all of their client payrolls were handled accurately and on-time from remote locations.
Dedication, team work, and planning enabled HR Strategies to go above and beyond to ensure that their clients and client employees were paid, and their needs met. HR Strategies was able to pull together and use their resources and remote capabilities in order to deliver at a time when most services were unable to… Click Here to Read the Rest!
In continuing with our National Safety Month theme, the Atlantic Hurricane Season is upon us again. Beginning June 1st and ending November 30th, it is important to recognize that while not all of us are in danger of a direct hit by a hurricane, we are all prone to heavy rains, storms, and flooding. According to Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS) at Florida State, we’re in for an above average season. That means the continuation of an already wet Spring. You can read more about the hurricane forecast by clicking here.
If your business is on or near the coast, make sure you get familiar with the following hurricane safety tips from the White House:
To prepare for a hurricane, you should take the following measures:
- To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
- Learn community hurricane evacuation routes and how to find higher ground. Determine where you would go and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.
- Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
- Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
- Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
- If in a high-rise building, be prepared to take shelter on or below the 10th floor.
If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:
- Listen to the radio or TV for information.
- Secure your home, close storm shutters and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
- Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
- Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purpose such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water.
- Find out how to keep food safe during and after and emergency.
You should evacuate under the following conditions:
- If you are directed by local authorities to do so. Be sure to follow their instructions.
- If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure – such shelter are particularly hazardous during hurricane no matter how well fastened to the ground.
- If you live in a high-rise building – hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.
- If you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river, or on an island waterway.
Read more about evacuating yourself and your family. If you are unable to evacuate, go to your wind-safe room. If you do not have one, follow these guidelines:
- Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
- Close all interior doors – secure and brace external doors.
- Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm – winds will pick up again.
- Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level.
- Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.
- Avoid elevators.
- Continue listening to a NOAA Weather Radio or the local news for the latest updates.
- Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.
- If you have become separated from your family, use your family communications plan or contact the FEMA National Emergency Family Registry and Locator System (NEFRLS) or the American Red Cross.
- If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.
- If you cannot return home and have immediate housing needs. Text SHELTER+ your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
- Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges. Stay off the streets. If you must go out watch for fallen objects; downed electrical wires; and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks.
- Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
- Walk carefully around the outside your home and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage before entering.
- Stay out of any building if you smell gas, floodwaters remain around the building or your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.
- Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
- NEVER use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds, or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.
Georgia storm season is in full swing, and HR Strategies’ clients are thankful for the Disaster Recovery Plan, which HR Strategies put into place almost a year and a half ago. HR Strategies’ comprehensive Disaster Recovery Plan protects loss of important items such as paychecks, benefits, and other human resource administrations. With such sudden destruction of property, as was recently seen in Adairsville, Georgia—a mere 60 miles from HR Strategies’ Duluth office—it’s necessary to have a back up plan in case of natural disaster.
HR Strategies is proud to demonstrate just how extensive and all-inclusive their Disaster Recovery Plan is. Some of the features include nightly offsite backups of all data as well as hourly offsite back ups of all critical data, with 24 hour monitoring. Additionally, HR Strategies has a backup operations site located a sufficient distance from their corporate offices to escape local disaster, which houses replicated computer equipment and workstations. The Disaster Recovery Plan ensures state of the art double layer of encryption protocols that are updated regularly. HR Strategies ensures that the Disaster Recovery Plan is fully operational and up to date with annual testing simulation.
The plan is impressive, but what’s more is that HR Strategies’ internal staff has remote access, which enables all staff members to be fully functional from anywhere via the web. The offsite location has enough workstations to allow certain critical HR Strategies staff members to work directly from the offsite bunker, safe from any possible natural disaster. After a disaster, all HR Strategies staff members are ready to be fully functional within 6 hours, onsite at the disaster recovery site or remotely from anywhere on the internet.
HR Strategies is committed to removing the uncertainty revolving storm season in Georgia. Their Disaster Recovery Plan is robust and ready to keep their clients up and running.
In Georgia, we know that today’s Weather Safety Topic is incredibly important because extreme heat is inevitable down here in the South! If your employees work outside, you need to know the following from the FEMA website:
Before Extreme Heat:
To prepare for extreme heat, you should:
- To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
- Install window air conditioners snugly; insulate if necessary.
- Check air-conditioning ducts for proper insulation.
Install temporary window reflectors (for use between windows and drapes), such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to reflect heat back outside.
- Weather-strip doors and sills to keep cool air in.
- Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings, or louvers. (Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80 percent.)
- Keep storm windows up all year.
- Listen to local weather forecasts and stay aware of upcoming temperature changes.
- Know those in your neighborhood who are elderly, young, sick or overweight. They are more likely to become victims of excessive heat and may need help.
- Be aware that people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than are people living in rural areas.
- Get trained in first aid to learn how to treat heat-related emergencies.
What you should do if the weather is extremely hot:
- Listen to NOAA Weather Radio for critical updates from the National Weather Service (NWS).
- Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
- Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun.
- Stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available.
- Postpone outdoor games and activities.
- Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, and other community facilities. Circulating air can cool the body by increasing the perspiration rate of evaporation.
- Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
- Drink plenty of water; even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
- Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
- Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
- Protect face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
- Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.
- Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
- Avoid extreme temperature changes.
- Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power during periods of extreme heat. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify an extreme heat hazard:
Heat Wave – Prolonged period of excessive heat, often combined with excessive humidity.
Heat Index – A number in degrees Fahrenheit (F) that tells how hot it feels when relative humidity is added to the air temperature. Exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15 degrees.
Heat Cramps – Muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. Although heat cramps are the least severe, they are often the first signal that the body is having trouble with the heat.
Heat Exhaustion – Typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs. This results in a form of mild shock. If not treated, the victim’s condition will worsen. Body temperature will keep rising and the victim may suffer heat stroke.
Heat Stroke – A life-threatening condition. The victim’s temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly.
Sun Stroke – Another term for heat stroke.
Excessive Heat Watch – Conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event to meet or exceed local Excessive Heat Warning criteria in the next 24 to 72 hours.
Excessive Heat Warning – Heat Index values are forecast to meet or exceed locally defined warning criteria for at least 2 days (daytime highs=105-110° Fahrenheit).
Heat Advisory – Heat Index values are forecast to meet locally defined advisory criteria for 1 to 2 days (daytime highs=100-105° Fahrenheit).
Don’t knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn’t start a conversation if it didn’t change once in a while.