HR was in at the deep end last month when faced with the daunting task of keeping staff safe and helping businesses stay afloat.
As hundreds of HR professionals drove to their offices as usual on the rainy Monday morning of 25 June, they could never have guessed that within hours they would be ordering staff onto rooftops to be winched to safety by helicopters.
Incessant downpours brought floods to large areas of the UK that day, claiming up to eight lives, causing an estimated £1bn of damage, and leaving thousands of jobs in the balance.
In Sheffield, the worst-hit city, more than five feet of water surged through the streets after the River Don burst its banks. Entire floors went under water, computers were ruined, staff were trapped, and invaluable data was simply washed away.
The destruction was so great that the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce (SCC), which represents companies in the Yorkshire city, has been forced to direct 100% of its activity into disaster recovery.
"We are focusing staff on getting out and about meeting the immediate needs of our members," SCC finance director Stephen Mitchell told Personnel Today. "Businesses want to know about the health and safety aspects of getting people back to work, how to claim on insurance, and so on."
Law firm Irwin Mitchell, which has 1,000 employees at its Sheffield office, had to close its doors to the flood at 3pm, with 40 workers still inside.
Acting HR director Sue Lenkowski told Personnel Today how the events unfolded. "It was raining heavily all day," she said. "We can see the River Don from our offices, and it became clear that it was going to overflow.
"I phoned the managing partner, who was off site, and then e-mailed line managers to let people go if they wanted to. Some people wanted to finish off a piece of work, or were not sure how to get home, so they decided to stay."
Before they knew it, these 40 members of staff were hostages to the water and being moved by Lenkowski up to the fifth floor of the building.
As cars were washed away in the streets below, and roads turned into rivers, it became apparent that some employees were going to be spending the night at work.
Sofas were carried up from reception, a director made