Every small business has risks. That’s true whether your job puts you 30 stories in the air or keeps you at a desk for most of the day. Luckily, you can put systems in place to reduce your exposures, and your employee training program is the perfect place to start.
Employee training is your chance to build risk management into the very fiber of your business. It gives your staff the tools they need to protect themselves, your customers, and ultimately, your business. Let’s see how a training program helps you reduce the chance of employee injuries, customer injuries, and customer disputes.
1. Decrease Work Injuries
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that more than 4 million workers suffer a serious on-the-job illness or injury every year. And while some industries are inherently riskier than others, every occupation has its hazards. Just imagine the trouble carpal tunnel syndrome might cause a programmer.
Work injuries can cause you trouble, too. Even with Workers’ Compensation Insurance to cover an injured employee’s medical bills and partial lost wages, you may have to:
- Spend time looking for a replacement.
- Hire, train, and pay a temporary employee.
- Pay for damaged equipment.
- Complete administrative tasks.
If you’re going to spend time and money on anything, spend it on an employee safety training program that might prevent the problem in the first place. OSHA studied injury prevention programs in eight states and found they reduce incidents by 9 percent to 60 percent.
Employee safety training is typically unique to both your industry and operations. However, you can start planning yours by:
- Identifying the safety issues for your business.
- Setting training goals.
- Developing practical learning activities.
The takeaway: Money spent on a quality employee safety program can save you money in the long run. If you already have a safety program in place, get feedback from employees or a consultant to see how you can improve it.
2. Reduce Customer Injuries
According to Insurance Journal, customer injuries are both common and costly for small businesses. Customer slip and falls impact 10 percent of businesses and average $20,000 per claim. Other types of customer injuries cost $30,000 on average.
To reduce the risk, train your employees to be alert to hazards in the workplace. For example, you may want to train workers to look for:
- Wet floors.
- Uneven surfaces.
- Poor lighting.
- Malfunctioning doors.
- Cluttered pathways and aisles.
- Obstructed exits.
- Loose carpeting.
- Improperly stored inventory.
Make sure they also know what to do when they find these hazards. For example, your policy may require employees document any problems they find, set up warning signs for customers, and alert you to the issue.
The takeaway: Your employees play a role in preventing two of the most common and costly insurance claims your small business may face. For more ways to keep customers safe, check out Safety + Health magazine’s “11 Tips for Effective Workplace Housekeeping.”
3. Prevent Contract Disputes
A recent survey found that more than a third of small-business owners experienced an incident that could have led to an insurance claim. Client complaints and contract disputes were the most common incident.
Customer and vendor relationships can turn ugly when things don’t go as expected, and buyer-seller contract lawsuits typically cost about $65,000.
Again, appropriate training can reduce this risk. For example, you may want to teach your employees to:
- Get everything in writing. Using written contracts is a good first step, but train employees to document conversations with a confirmation email. That way you have a paper trail if a client asks for changes in a meeting or phone call.
- Document customer complaints. Create a system where employees can easily record the complaint and the steps they took to resolve it.
- Warn clients about potential problems. People are more likely to be patient with a problem if they get some notice. Show employees how to let clients know about issues like shipment delays or budget overruns.
The takeaway: Making sure everyone is on the same page minimizes the chance of a client losing their cool when there’s a hitch. Even if you have Errors & Omissions Insurance, a policy that can help pay for your legal expenses when you’re sued over work mistakes, it’s smart to prevent problems before they become claims.
Check out the article “How Do I Train Employees on Customer Service?” to get more ideas for your program.
Remember: your employee training program is too important to treat like another box to check on your onboarding to-do list. Take the opportunity to align employees with your risk reduction goals.