Every business owner faces a daily battle on many fronts. Of course, among the most pressing for most is the battle to remain profitable and stay one step ahead of the competition. There’s also the battle for customer loyalty. In an era where consumers are more fickle than ever, customer retention is a facet of operations that no business owner can afford to take for granted. Then, of course, there’s also the battle for employee productivity. In an uncertain economic climate, your team need to remain firing on all cylinders if you’re to squeeze the most productivity (and hence profitability) out of every day.
Of course, there are many ways in which you can keep your employees productive. But in your zeal to try out new incentive schemes and employee recognition programs, never forget the importance of the fundamentals. Even little things like doubling down on employee safety can ensure loyalty and productivity more effectively than ostentatious bonus schemes.
Employees need to feel safe and valued as they go about their duties. And if you’re failing to cover this important base (or doing the bare minimum to stay on the right side of compliance), you may be met with stark consequences…
The price of failure
As a business owner, you likely have a close eye on the purse strings, especially in the current climate. However, you really can’t put a price on your employee’s safety. Even if your workplace isn’t unsafe, there’s always more that you could do to ensure that your team feel cared for at work. And when it comes to employee safety, the price of failure is high.
You may find that your employees are loathe to trust you and view any compensation or incentive schemes as distractions that are ill-compensation for working in an environment where they aren’t valued as much as they could and should be.
And that’s to say nothing of an inspection revealing that certain parts of your employee safety infrastructure aren’t as bulletproof as you’d assumed. Worse still, what if an employee injures themselves at work and takes legal action against you? While Employer’s Liability Insurance can insulate you from hefty cash payouts and legal fees, it cannot protect you from the potential damage that could be done to your brand’s reputation.
Here are a few ways in which you can ensure that you’re always one step ahead in the battle for employee safety.
Don’t just wait until you find out an inspection is due and dash around in a state of panic for the few days that precede the inspection. Maintain a proactive approach to employee safety. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to throw money at the problem. But it does mean that you have to keep your ear to the ground. Keep abreast of legislative changes that might impact your approach to employee health and safety. If this is likely to occupy to much of your time and attention, you may want to consider outsourcing your health and safety. While it may involve more overhead costs, it can keep you ahead of the curve without occupying time and attention that may be better spent elsewhere. In many cases, you’ll also find that the same experts help you to remain on the right side of environmental compliance, too. In an era where more and more consumers value Corporate Social Responsibility, showing that you have “green cred” as well as a proactive approach to employee safety can go a long way.
Employee training- It’s not a one and done!
Of course, when it comes to employee safety, you shouldn’t be doing all the heavy lifting yourself. You should be able to entrust your employees to adhere to proper health and safety protocols as they go about their working day.
But that means treating employee training as an ongoing process rather than a “one and done” exercise. Employee safety is much like driving. We’re all adept at doing everything “to the letter” when we’re learning to drive. But when we get out on our own, unsupervised, that’s when the real learning experience begins. That’s when, if we let our standards relax, we can develop bad habits which might endanger ourselves or others if we fail to correct them. The exact same thing is true of employee training. While refresher courses and up-to-date training can eat into your time and budget, inconsistencies in employee training can have dangerous results.
Listen to your employees
Communication with your employees is essential in maintaining a safe and healthy workplace. And that communication is a two-way street. As well as being clear and open in your expectations for your employees, you should also actively encourage them to let you know what they expect of you. They might encourage you to look at prescription safety eyeglasses to help them remain safe at work without compromising their quality of vision. Senior members of your team might want more autonomy when it comes to training new members of their team. Or they may simply have ideas on which PPE manufacturers give them the best combination of comfort and safety. After all, nobody can be at their best when distracted by discomfort.
One thing’s for sure, there’s no harm in helping your employees to feel more listened to and valued.
Create a culture of safety
Finally, Health and Safety aren’t just about PPE, well positioned warning signs and black and yellow striped tape. They’re also about implementing and maintaining a workplace culture that keeps people safe. And that includes their mental / psychological / emotional safety as well as their physical safety. You need a zero-tolerance policy on workplace bullying, and make your standards extremely clear in terms of the attitudes and behaviour you expect of every member of your team. You should also ensure that your team always know that your door is wide open to them, and that you are always happy to extend a sympathetic (and confidential) ear to them.
Your workplace culture is not only a huge part of your brand identity, it can go a long way towards defining your employees’ workplace experience.