Don’t Stop at the Door—Keep Employees Safe Outside of Work

February 21, 2018 | 5 min read
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How do you keep your employees safe? Most companies are serious about protecting their people at work, but very few think about keeping their employees safe when they’re not onsite. Your workers don’t leave risk behind when they walk out your doors. It makes sense from a business perspective, and a humanitarian one, to care for your people wherever they are—not just when they’re on the clock.

Your employees have lives of their own, and they’ll make their own choices about risk. But there are ways you can help keep your people safe when they’re away from work. Here are four places to start.

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Rush-hour traffic can be a dangerous place for your employees. An automobile accident occurs every five seconds, and every 12 minutes someone dies in a crash. If your employees are injured on the road, your company will feel the costs—a single automobile accident costs employers an average of $16,500 in medical care, legal expenses, property damage, and lost productivity.

You can’t control what happens on the road, but you can still help keep your people safe. Here are some ways to reduce risk during your employees’ commutes.

  1. Start a driver safety program at work. Provide education and incentives that encourage your employees to follow safe driving practices. Be sure to make it clear that your people are important to you—you’re not trying to control their lives outside of work, but you care about their safety.
  2. Encourage commuters to stay home during inclement weather. Some employers pressure their workers to come in, no matter how bad the weather is. Not only is that dangerous, but it creates lasting resentment that will have long-term effects beyond a single snow day. Most people can do some amount of work from home. Let them.
  3. Offer flex hours. Most accidents occur during rush-hour traffic. Make it easy for your employees to avoid rush hour by coming in and leaving an hour early or an hour later.
  4. Allow telecommuting so that employees can stay home, if needed, without missing work.

ID Badges

Recently it was discovered that over 1,300 DHS identification badges had been lost or stolen since 2012. It’s a scary thought, but it’s not unique to DHS. Employee badges are lost and stolen at airports, hospitals, and other facilities where security is a priority. If your company uses employee ID badges, it’s probably happening more frequently than you realize. Identicard recommends some great ways to cut down on lost and stolen ID badges. A few notables:

  1. Let people choose how they will carry their badge. If they can choose a lanyard, reel or clip, they’re more likely to actually wear the identification—which in turn means they’re less likely to lose it.
  2. Make their badges multifunctional. If they rely on their badge to do their work, it becomes more important to keep track of. Some examples:
    • Clock in and clock out
    • Unlock security doors
    • Purchase food in the cafeteria
  1. Use a healthy amount of shame. You don’t want to cause any damage here, but the prospect of some lighthearted embarrassment can be a strong motivator to keep track of an ID badge.
  2. If a badge is lost or stolen, encourage employees to notify your company right away so it can be deactivated. Include a P.O. Box on the badge in case it’s found to increase recovery.
  3. Don’t include the company logo on the badge, just in case someone is tempted to test out a lost or stolen badge. Use a nondescript logo and color coding to identify employees versus vendors or contractors.

You should also stress the importance of not making employee ID badges visible in public, where it could get lifted. If your employees go out to the bar after work or go shopping on the way home, they should keep their badges out of sight.

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Physical and Mental Health

Unhealthy workers are costing U.S. businesses $153 billion annually in lost productivity. But employees who eat healthy are 25% more likely to perform better. And people who exercise for 30 minutes, three times a week, are 15% more likely to have better performance at work. Healthy employees means a healthy business.

6Q lists 57 different ways you can encourage your employees to get and stay healthy. Here are a few options worth doing:

  • Arrange for onsite flu vaccines, or offer a rebate for getting vaccinated.
  • Provide a fruit bowl in the break room, instead of junk food.
  • Provide a fridge so employees can bring lunches from home, instead of ordering fatty lunches.
  • Subsidize public transportation or ride sharing.
  • Sponsor an employee sports team.
  • Offer a company-wide mental health plan.
  • Have a professional come in and give advice on stress reduction techniques to all employees.
  • Use apps such as FoodStand for your employees to encourage healthy eating habits
  • Stress to your employees to stay home when they’re sick. It is vital that employees get well and don’t spread disease to others. The flu can cause a large disruption in operations, but it can be prevented.

Home Offices

If you have remote workers, you can’t do a lot to make sure their home offices are injury-free. But you can help them make smart choices about how they set up their workspaces. Educate your telecommuters about maintaining proper ergonomics. Offer to pay for ergonomic furniture to help avoid repetitive motion injury or other health conditions. Some companies require remote workers to sign an agreement that confirms they have a dedicated workspace at home, and that it’s safe.

Protect Your Most Valuable Asset

It may be a cliche, but it’s a true cliche: your people are your company’s most important asset. They’re also YOUR people. Don’t be satisfied with maintaining a safe work environment—do what you can to help them stay safe wherever they are. It’s good for your business, and it’s good for your employees’ loved ones.

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