I was working yesterday with a colleague whose 18-year-old is on work experience at the HQ of a well-known retailer in London. She was both grateful and relieved that they not only sent her daughter home early, but also considered their staff’s welfare and safety by escorting her to the station.

It’s a great example of an employer behaving in a caring and responsible manner towards staff – but I wonder how many other businesses have been as well prepared for the staff welfare issues presented by these dreadful, mindless riots?

The need to put the physical safety of staff first is (hopefully) a given. But I suspect that the events of the last few days have exposed a few ‘holes’ in procedure for many organisations.

It’s a sad fact, for example, that even straightforward employee data, like contact details or information about next of kin, is often out of date. It’s a simple administrative task that often gets pushed to the bottom of the pile, and it’s only when disaster strikes that it becomes apparent just how important keeping this basic information current really is.

If one of your employees was travelling through an affected area and didn’t turn up to work as expected, would you be able to contact them to check they were OK? If you have staff who are frequently out of the office on visits, do you know what their schedule is so you can check they have arrived safely? If the worst happens and your premises are seriously damaged overnight, could you contact all of your staff quickly to update them on the situation?

Of course it’s not just staff welfare you need to think about. It’s important to keep client and supplier information up-to-date too, so you can advise people if it is safe to visit you or let them know if you are expecting temporary disruption to your services.

Thanks to technology, it is now much easier to keep important information up-to-date. But it’s not just about having the latest all singing all dancing systems in place. Any HR or CRM software system is only as good as the information you put into it. Unfortunately, it’s likely that many businesses will have learned that lesson the hard way this week.

If this morning’s news is anything to go by, a few organisations also need to learn some lessons about good employee relations and managing staff welfare effectively. I was shocked to hear that staff from one retailer were sent home early when their premises were evacuated – only to find out that they will now lose pay as a result. Not exactly the action of a caring employer who values their staff.

I hope you, your people and your business are keeping safe. Do let us know how you have been affected and what HR issues the London riots have raised for you and your staff welfare.

Erika Lucas author image

Erika Lucas

Writer and Communications Consultant

Erika Lucas is a writer and communications consultant with a special interest in HR, leadership, management and personal development. Her career has spanned journalism and PR, with previous roles in regional press, BBC Radio, PR consultancy, charities and business schools.