When you think about risk management and your business, what comes to mind? Your finances? Your building and equipment? Your insurance policy?

These things are all important and worth protecting. But managing your organizational risk is about more than dollars and stuff. It’s about managing your operations and people, too.

Risk comes in all different sizes

We’ve all seen those scary insurance commercials featuring burglars, car crashes, and destroyed buildings. If you’re a business owner, you’ve likely invested in protecting your business from these events. Which is good! But your insurance policy can only do so much. In order for your business to run as smoothly and risk-free as possible, you’ll need to think well beyond break-ins, vehicles, and natural disasters.

There are all kinds of things that can wreak havoc on your business, and most of them aren’t nearly as spectacular (or unlikely) as a tornado. The key is to break away from these standard scenarios and take a look at things from a big picture lens.

Here are two key areas that may be getting overlooked when it comes to risk assessment and reduction.

1.) Health and wellness

If you think employee health is a personal issue, you are overlooking one key thing. Unhealthy employees make for unhealthy businesses.

The cost of absenteeism is often measured in sick days, but the hidden costs of presenteeism are harder to measure. Because of this, employers may tend to ignore the issue, but presenteeism can have a HUGE impact on your business.

Research by Global Corporate Challenge revealed that while employees reported being absent from work an average of 4 days per year, they also admitted to being unproductive on the job for an average of 57.5 days per year. That’s nearly three months! Or the equivalent of your entire staff working at 75% of their capacity at all times. Ouch. 

But there is hope. The study also showed that presenteeism has an advantage over absenteeism when it comes to fixes.

Employees who participated in a comprehensive health program experienced improvements in sleep, stress levels, and overall happiness. Workers who participated in the program were shown to be happier, more relaxed, and yes, more productive at work. These employees (and employers) gained back the equivalent of ten days of lost time.

Building a healthy workplace means buying into a healthy culture and taking care of your employees. Some quick ways to do that include:

  • Valuing your employees as people first
  • Offering flexible schedules and paid time off
  • Managing workloads appropriately
  • Providing market value wages and compensation
  • Investing in ergonomic office equipment
  • Encouraging healthy behaviors via gym memberships, fitness classes, etc.
  • Participating in community giving and other charitable activities
  • Giving people access to help and support through Employee Assistance Programs, financial education, and employee benefits

You may also want to consider investing in organization-wide training and resources regarding drug testing, substance abuse, and treatment programs.

While these things may not automatically jump to mind when you think risk management, committing to a healthy workplace can be a huge factor in helping you maintain a healthy bottom line.

2.) Safety

OSHA says you must provide a safe working environment for your employees and you’ve likely done some work to make sure those boxes are checked. But when’s the last time you conducted a safety audit? Or asked your employees about what kinds of potential hazards or unsafe practices they see happening around them?

It could be something as simple as adhering that file cabinet to the wall or taping down that loose power cord. Or, it could be something that’s been baked into your organization over time: A pace of work that is unsustainable, hours and schedules that lead to exhausted, mistake-prone staff, or turning a blind eye to unsafe procedures.

If you haven’t built a culture of safety in your company, here are a few ways to start making it happen:

  • Keep your workplace and equipment clean, functional, and clutter free
  • Create an environment that welcomes safety communication and incident reporting
  • Form a safety committee dedicated to identifying and fixing potential issues
  • Conduct relevant, up to date, and interactive safety trainings for your team
  • Reward your team for safe behaviors and hold people accountable for unsafe conduct
  • Don’t just talk about safety. Invest in the equipment, processes, and measures you need to put in place to keep employees safe

Providing a safe work place doesn’t mean slapping up an OSHA poster and calling it good.

Really committing to safety won't just reduce the possibility of loss due to workplace injuries, accidents, fines, and lawsuits. It will also show your employees that you care.

And that can go a long way toward building a better business.


Photo by Luca Bertolli