10 Tips To Help Small Businesses Create A Safe And Healthy Workplace
- April 21, 2021
- Posted by: Chris Stanzione
- Category: Talent Acquisition
Every business’ strength is built on its employees. Protecting the health and safety of workers is something every business should be focused on, particularly as more workers begin to return to the office.
But promoting health and safety isn’t just relevant within the shadow of the pandemic. Illness of any kind among employees comes with higher absence rates and drops in productivity. And if an employee is injured on the job, a company could be facing significant financial impacts, including workers’ compensation payments, fines and even lawsuits. These costs can be particularly devastating for a small business.
Conversely, taking steps to promote good health and ensure a safe workplace not only helps businesses avoid negative consequences but can also promote happier, more engaged employees. That’s why it’s vital for companies of all sizes—including small businesses—to learn and practice the fundamentals of risk management and worker protection. To help, 10 members of Forbes Human Resources Council share important considerations for smaller companies working to ensure a safe, healthy work environment for their team.
1. Know there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.
Small businesses need to know that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. They should first take the time to determine what is most important to both the organization and its employees. Building a plan around risk management and worker protection should be a blend of legal perspective and what the organization and its people need. – Megan Leasher, Talent Plus
2. Enable two-way communication.
Two-way communication is most important. Be transparent about your safety program and encourage involvement and input from your employees. Establish the processes to be sustainable at all levels of your business. – Nicole Smartt Serres, Star Staffing
Employee mental wellness has suffered through the pandemic, creating a huge pain point across industries. As you take steps to ensure the safety and health of your workforce, do not overlook mental health. Educating employees about mental wellness and extending flexible work hours whenever possible are critical steps to helping your workforce maintain productivity and a proper work-life balance. – Sameer Penakalapati, CEIPAL Corp.
4. Ensure everyone plays by the rules.
Implement the common-sense guidelines supported by your city, county, state or OSHA, and then follow through on them—no exceptions. Do you have an employee who doesn’t want to wear a mask? Someone who doesn’t keep their distance from others? Someone who’s failing to follow clearly defined protocols? Send them home immediately. You must be relentlessly stringent about ensuring everyone plays by the rules. – Tracy Cote, Zenefits
5. Know what each side’s responsibilities are.
One thing small businesses need to know about risk management and worker protection is the varying degrees of responsibility of the employer and the employee. Employers need to provide a safe working environment and, whenever possible, options to allow their workers to engage in a mutually agreeable way. Being open to new ways of working without judgment is crucial as well. – Chris Stanzione, North Highland Consulting
6. Tap into available consulting and training resources.
Small businesses typically operate with limited resources and lack specialized in-house roles focused on health and safety needs. With evolving environments, laws and compliance requirements, small businesses should leverage consulting and training resources available for them through the SBA, OSHA and other health-and-safety-focused organizations. – Subhashree Chaudhuri, Equal Opportunity Schools
7. Put safety policies front and center.
Safety policies are not always top of mind for employees who are immersed in day-to-day work. Regular engagement should foster a culture in which safety response becomes second nature. Established communication channels such as newsletters and employee meetings can help. Reminding employees of the care and concern leadership has for their well-being will go a long way toward getting their attention and planting seeds for memory. – Courtney Peterson, Sidwell Friends School
8. Make health and safety part of company culture.
Health and safety have to be part of the culture. It is the responsibility of all to minimize risk and protect the environment. If you see something, say something. But even more important is to continue to look for something—meaning, do not assume someone else is monitoring or looking. Everyone can play an active role in ensuring health and safety are maintained. – Tina R. Walker, California Community Foundation
9. Ensure everyone is aware of expectations.
The key is making sure that everyone is aware of why and what is happening. A lot of the time we treat our work environments like our homes. For example, we may share a pretzel dish, and someone will stick their hand in it without thinking. We spend so much time making the office feel like home that sometimes we forget that the office isn’t home. Make sure everyone is informed of expectations. – Kristen Fowler, JMJ Phillip Executive Search
10. Get input from the team and set up a task force.
I would recommend a couple of things here. First of all, get all people managers to listen to the needs of the team in the field and on the frontlines and provide a way for information about risks and safety to flow in daily. Companies should mandate a daily check-in and reporting process. Secondly, create an employee task force to review these daily reports for prompt follow-up and action. – Madhukar Govindaraju, Numly™, Inc.