Protecting your employees from accidents or illness on the job is a moral priority, as well as a requirement for doing business in many of the world’s developed countries. There are serious fines imposed when businesses, especially ones involved in manufacturing, fail to provide safe working conditions and, in rare, cases, violations pierce the corporate veil and executives are held criminally liable for injuries due to their negligence. For instance, there was a case nearly a decade ago where executives failed to provide proper safety equipment and didn’t effectively warn workers of the danger (signs were in Engish for the mostly Spanish-speaking workers), leading to the death of a worker. A bigger concern in the world we live in now is that consumers use shared values as a variable in making purchase decisions and companies that fail to provide for employee safety and acceptable working conditions impact market performance for these firms. At least one academic source found values may have the greatest impact on consumer choice, well ahead of attitudes toward the brand, brand attributes, and consumer lifestyle.
Corporate social responsibility
Many values and behaviors fall under the general topic of corporate social responsibility. Cultural norms and values likely have the greatest impact on consumer behavior but individual values also play a part in informing consumer choice. Among these values are:
- Equity, equal treatment of others and purchasing ethically sourced products
- Diversity, including hiring minorities and women, compensating and promoting them based on performance
- Fairness, such as paying the brand’s fair share in taxes and influencing regulations without self-interest
- Environmental protection, such as supporting environmental causes and employing environmentally sensitive business practices
- Concern for consumers and employees, including protecting the safety and establishing reasonable working conditions
However you define which values impact market performance, we can see below these belief-driven purchases greatly impact market performance not only in the US but in much of the world. Failure of a brand to not only support the values held by their target market but to live those values in their behaviors can mean death for the brand or, at a minimum, lower revenue that negatively impacts growth among other increased costs.
Consider Amazon whose treatment of workers, among other questionable business practices, generated a call to boycott the business by ethical consumers who vote with their pocketbooks. Plus, the brand faces a serious call for workers to unionize, which will reduce the brand’s flexibility in dealing with workers and drive up costs. Similarly, the business incurs massive expenses to replace disgruntled workers who quit the firm and must be replaced. Providing for employee safety and reasonable working conditions impact market performance.
Today, we discuss how you and your employees can improve safety so that working conditions impact market performance in a positive way.
Providing for safety
First, let’s deal with ways you and your employees can make your workplace safer for everyone.
Know your surroundings
One of the main conditions that can trip you up, figuratively and literally, occurs when you don’t pay attention to what’s around you. When you get to work and start doing your job for the day it is important to also think about the type of job you do and what potential dangerous conditions exist. Just like a pilot conducts a thorough inspection of his/her plane before takeoff, you should check your equipment and job site to ensure no threats exist such as frayed wiring, tripping hazards from equipment stored unsafely, or missing safety equipment. For example, working in an office is a fairly safe job and the biggest threat you likely face is a shock from damaged equipment or a fire. Whereas, if you work in a warehouse such as Costco, you face much greater potential danger from pallets piled high, forklifts, and a host of other dangers to watch out for. If you stay alert and aware of the things around you, you are much less likely to hurt yourself or endanger others because you keep an eye out for danger and be ready to react to it when it comes.
Of course, businesses can help protect workers from these dangers with proper policies and procedures. For instance, marking safe walkways goes a long way to protecting from falling objects or dangers faced by being too close to an operating machine. Effectively training workers on the safe operation of their equipment and banning workers without proper training from the shop floor also helps protect everyone.
Use tools correctly
If you don’t know how to use a tool or machine correctly, don’t use it! Train employees thoroughly on all the equipment they must use and cross-train employees on various machinery so you have a backup rather than expect someone to hop into a position they don’t know well. When you see these horror stories online of people cutting their hands and cutting off limbs, a lot of the time it is because they didn’t know how to use a tool! Ask someone for help and make sure you are fully trained, and use OSHA machine guarding to ensure employees are always safe when using tools.
Report unsafe conditions
When you work in a large place such as manufacturing or a construction site, it’s sometimes easy to walk straight past a hazard and assume that the person responsible for ensuring safety will remove the hazard. However, safety is everyone’s responsibility so it’s important to report issues even if you think someone must already know about the issue because there’s never a guarantee the proper person knows about the problem.
That goes for office workers, as well. If an elevator appears to operate in an unusual manner, it might indicate a potential failure is imminent. Report it immediately. The same goes if you see someone acting suspiciously or notice an unusual person in the building. Concurrent with the general increase in crime, the incidences of office shootings and other crimes against persons are on the rise. See something, say something.
Wear the right equipment
It’s not only people in the lab who have to wear safety equipment for their job, there are a lot of other professionals who are required to wear safety gear at all times to keep you and everyone around you safe. For example, in an office, you likely have a name tag or fob which you swipe to get in and out of the building. This is for the security and safety of you and the office to ensure against unauthorized access. On a construction site, you may need to wear goggles, helmets, ear protection, and gloves to keep you safe from heavy materials, falling objects, and loud noises. In a warehouse, you have to wear steel-toed boots and a hi-vis jacket to help people see you when they drive a forklift or other equipment. Always wear the requisite equipment because it is there to protect you and others.
Don’t rush your work. If you are supposed to stack a shelf full of beer and wine, make sure you don’t carry too much at once and take your time to stack them so they won’t fall on you or a customer. If you must drill into the ground for your job, be gentle and make sure you don’t slip by standing on solid ground. Always exercise care when doing your job as this helps you prevent injury to yourself or others.
Acceptable working conditions impact market performance
You must provide more than a safe workspace to ensure conditions impact marketing performance positively or at least don’t negatively impact performance. With the ubiquitousness of the internet and social media, it’s nearly impossible to keep poor working conditions a secret and everyone has a camera with them at all times thanks to smartphones. It’s hard to argue against a video that shows your poor working conditions.
A big reason Amazon faces boycotts is over poor working conditions like unreasonable expectations of productively that limits even bathroom breaks. Even the relatively high wage starting at $15 isn’t enough to convince many consumers that these represent reasonable working conditions.
Providing safety and reasonable working conditions impact market performance. In this post, we showed several ways to make sure your workplace is safe. We also showed how working conditions impact market performance. Add your questions and suggestions in the comments below.
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