Getting Employees to Participate in Risk Management to Reduce Workers Compensations Costs

By on April 11, 2018

Employees are a key asset in all organizations and yet they also represent one of the greatest sources of risk. Unfortunately, most employers and HR professionals will likely be faced with a bad flu season, unhealthy personal habits, chronic conditions, workplace accidents and even information technology errors. All incidents have the potential to damage the reputation of an organization, and even minor ones are often expensive and time-consuming to resolve. In addition, other risky behaviors in the workplace or among your employees could be upping your insurance rates and workers’ compensation costs.

Managing employee risk by balancing trust with effective and proportionate control is a key challenge for both the public and private sector businesses – particularly when you consider the financial implications, legal issues, privacy concerns and back office support necessary to tackle such a broad solution. It requires a strategic approach at all levels of the organization to engage in a safety culture which align with the company’s unique mission, structure and business model.

A Business Safety Culture Can Cut Your Insurance Costs

There is a statistically strong relationship between employees’ opinions about workplace culture and actual safety outcomes (ie. reduction in the number of accidents, days away from work, total recorded safety incidents, and workday interruptions). Companies can successfully reduce insurance costs by reducing health and safety incidents through a health-positive work culture which empowers employees and promotes good habits.

Work with your human resources team, insurance brokers and risk management advisors to identify health and safety issues impacting the business, determine cost drivers in order to customize solutions and set incentives for cooperation among all employees.

Elements of a Safety Culture
The following are commonly recognized elements required to create and nurture a safety culture in the workplace:

  • Commitment at all levels (employees, management, executives, et al)
  • Treatment of program and employees as an investment, not a cost
  • System for hazard prevention and control
  • Training and resources readily available
  • Continuous process for adaptation and improvement
  • Encourages and values personal safety and well-being
  • Blame-free work environment
  • Celebrates individual and company successes

Involving and Empowering: Make Safety Everyone’s Responsibility

From hourly staff to the CEO, make sure that everyone keeps an eye out for potential health and safety hazards. If the entire workforce is willing and entitled to identify and remediate at-risk behaviors, not only will you have a safer environment but a more communicative and personally invested workforce.

The more actively involved all levels of the organization are in addressing hazards and positively reinforcing behaviors consistent with the desired culture, the stronger the safety culture.

Employees at all levels are equally comfortable stopping each other when at-risk behavior is observed and recognizing each other when safe behavior is observed. While good constructive feedback is important for improvement, positive reinforcement for safe behavior is essential for building safe habits.

Discipline has its place however it can work against attempts to build a safety culture. Disproportionate disciplinary actions can lead to lower morale, lower productivity and often keeps employees from being proactive or sharing knowledge of safety issues. Most safety hazards and at-risk behaviors costing your company can be effectively dealt with without discipline.

When employees understand the importance of their job and how their goals align with the company’s overall strategy, they are more likely to make well-informed decisions heightened by their sense of accountability and ownership. Don’t hesitate to empower employees with clear knowledge and tools for making decisions. Trusting employees and encouraging them to solve problems will increase opportunities for improvement and innovation which reduce the likelihood of safety issues.

It will be important to ensure employees feel comfortable discussing issues with management so they trust that communication is effective, their suggestions are acknowledged. Consult with each team throughout the process of designing, implementing, and evaluating a safety program to ensure common hazards are reduced and future safety needs are met.

Fostering Personal Respect and Well-Being

Improving your business’s’ safety culture with integrated risk management and wellness programs cannot only reduce health insurance costs, improve employee morale and reduce the frequency or severity of workers’ compensation claims, it can also increase productivity innovation. Management must communicate and demonstrate a set of principles that support and enhance the wellness of the workforce. This could mean offering comprehensive healthcare benefits, gym memberships or life insurance to your employees and their dependents. This way employees can become accountable for their personal health decisions ensuring they avoid risky behaviors and operating at their best.

Wellness does not simply mean the absence of sickness or disease, it may also involve emotional, occupational or environmental factors. Wellness is an active long-term process that places the responsibility on the individual employee to be aware of their choices and make decisions that will lead them toward a fulfilling and healthy life.

Celebrate Success

Recognize and reward daily behaviors and actions that lead to a safer work environment (and not just avoidance of safety incidents). Recognize every employee who participates in workplace safety. And for those who go the extra measure to help the business achieve some sort of goal, find out what your employees value and align it with what you can offer. Consider cash, bonds, a health care premium discount, paid time off or a vacation getaway.

Reducing Risk and Cutting Premiums Takes Time and Planning

Workers’ Compensation Insurance and health insurance is there to legally and/or financial assist a business or employee against health and safety risks. You can manage the incidents and costs of those risks by building a thoughtful business safety and wellness culture. Healthy, safe, sustainable work cultures are catalysts for organizational and technological innovations, however, such a comprehensive effort to instill change will probably take time before your efforts pay off in visible results.

Work with your employees, insurance broker, risk management team and relevant business consultants to create policies, procedures, programs, and organizational structures that promote safety-oriented thinking and open communication. If your company and its employees invest the time and effort to roll-out an improved safety culture, your insurance premiums are destined to reflect those changes within a few years time.

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