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How to Prepare Your Payroll for a Natural Disaster


Take a second to imagine the unimaginable. You’ve seen it dozens of times on TV, on Twitter, and on Facebook in recent years: A hurricane blows through Florida; A tidal wave destroys an entire coastal town; An earthquake leaves a city in shambles. As climate change worsens, natural disasters are steadily increasing. Even here at SOLE headquarters in Portland, where it’s known to rain year-round, snowfall last winter led to unprecedented shutdowns of public spaces, office buildings, malls, and transit operations.

We hope it never happens to you - but if it does, you probably want to make sure you're prepared to pay your employees. They'll need that money to deal with the aftermath. Don’t worry - we’ll walk you, step-by-step, through how to prepare your company’s payroll for a natural disaster.

Steps to Preparing Your Company’s Payroll for a Natural Disaster

  1. Switch to 100% electronic payroll. It might sound daunting, but imagine a disaster rolls in and mail is delayed or employees can’t make it to the workplace to pick up their checks because it’s too hazardous—you don’t want to take that risk. Your employees are going to need their money on time if a hurricane decides to visit. If you employ workers who don’t have bank accounts, contact SOLE to get your business to 100% direct deposit using payroll cards. Your unbanked employees will be able to get paid via direct deposit just the same as those with bank accounts.

  2. Set up a payroll contingency plan for emergencies. To start, this should include setting up your payroll system on a laptop and training a trusted backup employee on how to run payroll in the event that you can’t. Some companies plan to send their payroll manager out of town in the days preceding a disaster to ensure they have sufficient resources, like power, to run payroll when the time comes.

  3. Plan to process payroll early if you’re anticipating a disaster. Consider this: during and immediately after a hurricane, ATMs often go offline due to power outages, or the banks remove the cash to circumvent looting attempts. Paying employees early may provide the grace period that they need to withdraw money before it’s too late.

  4. Prepare the rest of your business for a disaster. Do you manage company HR policies too? Read our tips for preparing your workplace for severe weather from the HR perspective. You can also read more helpful disaster preparation for payroll here.

If you’re worried about the logistical challenge of switching to 100% direct deposit, keep in mind that making the switch to fully electronic pay is not only a measure for preparedness – it also has a significant impact on the environment. A company issuing 100 paper checks each week would prevent 235 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions each year by converting those checks to direct deposit. To maximize this valuable contribution to the environment, SOLE will plant trees in your company’s name when you achieve paperless payroll by eliminating paper checks*.

It’s up to all of us to do our part to both prevent and prepare for these natural disasters. The good news is that, as a payroll manager, you can have a significant impact on the problem. Contact SOLE to get started with paycards today.

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