The holiday season is upon us, bringing celebration, gatherings with loved ones, and gifts. Unfortunately, the holidays bring more than cheer with them — they also bring risk. From violence to theft to bad decisions made during the company holiday party, December is often filled with risks to your business and employees.
Below are some statistics that outline the holiday risks your company may be facing as well as some steps you can take to prevent or mitigate them.
The 10 Steps You Must take to Prepare Your Business for Holiday Risks
Holiday risks at work
Workplace violence: The holidays are stressful, and your employees are likely to be more on edge than usual during the month of December. That means that they’ll have less bandwidth for drama at work. If there’s a conflict in your workplace, it may boil over into violence. While there’s no reliable source of data about all workplace assaults during the holidays, The Bureau of Labor Statistics’s (BLS) most recent data shows that co-workers and work associates were the second biggest cause of workplace homicides in 2017.
Retail Theft: Many different flavors of theft can happen during the holidays, and the one that might spring to mind immediately is shoplifting. According to one report, the holiday season is the highest theft time for 72% of U.S. retailers; half of yearly losses happen in winter. Retailers also fall prey to return fraud — according to the National Retail Federation, about 3.5% of all returns are fraudulent, which adds up to $2.2 billion in losses (and means some of your returned items are likely stolen.) Thieves are also stealing goods directly from stores by showing up for BOPIS, or “buy online, pick up in-store,” fraud attempts during the 2018 holiday season retailers saw a 13% increase in BOPIS theft according to ACI Worldwide.
Robbery: While most theft during the holidays might be associated with holiday shopping, thieves may also target bank deposits, or hold up other types of businesses. This can be dangerous — BLS lists robbers as the top cause of workplace homicide in 2017 and in previous years. Take every precaution to avoid theft — don’t have the same people go to the bank at the same time each week, for example — but if your employees are confronted by criminals, be sure they know to hand over the money rather than risk their lives.
Holiday risks at work events
Drunk driving: December is a month when people travel and it’s also a month when people drink. According to the most recent data from the US Department of Transportation, hundreds of lives are lost due to drunk drivers every holiday season: 781 people lost their lives in drunk-driving-related crashes in the month of December in 2016.
Sexual harassment and assault: Sexual violence and harassment is also something likely to occur over the holidays. According to Marketplace-Edison Research’s Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: #metoo, Women, Men, and the Gig Economy report, 21% percent of Americans say they have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. The study found that 27% of women and 14% of men say they have experienced sexual harassment at work; sexual harassment even affects those working in the gig economy; 30% of gig workers say they have experienced sexual harassment at work as well. These incidents may occur more frequently at holiday parties – in an effort to rein in inappropriate behavior, some workplaces started to dial back their holiday parties in 2017, serving less alcohol.
Holiday risks outside of work
Cybercrime: Hackers aren’t above using the holidays as a way to steal valuable information from your employees — people do a lot of shopping during December and that makes them targets for phishing, spoofing and identity theft. For example, phishers were out in force for China’s big shopping holiday, Singles Day. building sites and apps that look just like online retailers and collecting payments when unwary shoppers stumbled in to make a purchase. Last year almost 4,000 fake shopping apps were downloaded to more than 300,000 mobile devices in China. Hackers also use the increased traffic to shopping sites to steal shoppers’ identities. According to Experian, 43% of people who’ve had their identity stolen through online shopping, say it happened during the holiday season. (This can be a risk for your organization if employees are shopping on work devices because it’s not just their personal information being stolen — it’s your company’s, too.)
Fires: With trees, lights, candles and of course, fireplaces, the holidays are a time when house fires are common. Between 2013 and 2017, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 160 home fires that started with Christmas trees every year, according to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA). The average damage of these fires is three deaths, 15 injuries, and $10 million in direct property damage each year.
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Keep your business and your people safe this holiday season
The holidays can be a difficult time of year. Make sure your employees and your assets are safe this December by observing common sense rules (like asking workers not to shop from the office) and by investing in security.
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