When we hear “employee workplace safety,” we think of things like construction workers wearing hard hats or setting up a workstation to avoid repetitive strain injury.
However, this is only part of creating a safe workplace. If you’re genuinely working on creating a psychologically safe workplace, you need to go beyond that. Several other areas of workplace safety and security also need to be addressed.
In August 2023, Tesla experienced a data breach affecting more than 75,000 employees. Most high-profile data breaches impact customer data, but customers are legally required to keep all kinds of data on their employees. Data that can lead to real problems if it leaks.
Use High-Quality HR Software
High-quality HR software can reduce the risk of a data breach and help keep your employee’s data safe.
Train Employees in Cybersecurity
Providing cybersecurity training to employees doesn’t just protect them at work but at home as well. Make sure to instill the basics, such as not clicking on links in email and how to spot common scams. Even if they don’t work from home, you must help your employees feel safe and learn how to protect themselves from the dangers and hassle of identity theft.
Require Employees to Use the Right Tools
Require employees to use a VPN to network into the office and encourage them to use one when traveling and using public Wi-Fi networks, even for personal tasks. Also, require multi-factor authentication and train them to use it on any account that has it available.
Psychological safety is also important. Employees who feel safe at work are more productive and less likely to call in sick. Specific demographics, such as racial minorities or LGBT employees, are more likely to feel unsafe.
Psychological safety can be hard to manage, but here are some thoughts.
Watch for the following red flags:
- Disconnected team members
- Lack of cooperation
- Lack of respect
- Certain individuals dominate conversations
- Hesitation or discomfort from others when expressing thoughts
- Employees talk and vent to each other but not to managers or leaders.
Signs of Psychological Safety
When psychological safety is present, on the other hand, individuals will speak up, collaborate openly, admit their mistakes, and take on challenging tasks.
There are four stages of psychological safety:
- Belonging safety. The ability to connect and belong without fear of rejection or humiliation. This is achieved by training all employees in inclusion and making it a norm.
- Learner safety. The ability to make mistakes and ask questions without fear. Employees should not walk on eggshells to avoid being called out for errors.
- Contributor safety. The ability to speak, give opinions, and share what you have learned. Never call somebody’s ideas stupid.
- Challenger safety. The ability to challenge the status quo and speak up if you see something broken or a potential improvement. Challenger safety is also important to physical safety, encouraging employees to speak up if they see something wrong.
Benefits of Psychological Employee Workplace Safety
Psychological safety doesn’t just ensure that your employees are comfortable at work. It creates an environment that is the foundation of a high-performing team. It leads to higher engagement, greater collaboration, and more innovation.
Most employers know that physical safety is important but tend to stop at preventing workplace accidents. This is important, of course, but some other aspects of physical safety are less well-known.
Does your company have a plan for a natural disaster? This is often location-dependent; companies in hurricane zones are, for example, often better prepared.
Data backed up outside the local area helps support operations, but protecting your workers is even more critical. The first thing to do is have a disaster evacuation policy. Very few jobs are so important that people should be expected to drive through a hurricane or a wildfire to get to work. If people can work from home, great. If they have evacuated to a shelter, they should get paid administrative leave rather than be expected to find working wi-fi.
Employees should be actively discouraged from coming to work if it’s dangerous, even if the “disaster” only impacts them (for example, the road out of the development they live in being flooded).
Violence is not something any employer thinks will happen at their worksite. But, in 2019, there were 761 homicides in workplaces. Many minor examples of violence go unreported. Some workplace violence is internal, between employees. Other incidents involve customers, with risk factors that include working where alcohol is served, working late at night, being a delivery driver, or being in healthcare.
You need to identify risk factors in your workplace and put together a workplace violence prevention policy. Steps to increase psychological safety can also reduce the risk of violence between employees. Good mental health support also helps reduce this.
Make sure people are not afraid to report incidents and have a zero-tolerance policy towards physical violence, no matter how minor, between employees. Public contact employees should have access to a panic button.
Also, train managers to watch for signs of domestic violence. Sometimes, abusers will show up at the workplace to cause trouble.
Financial Tips in Employee Workplace Safety
The best way to help your employees have financial safety is to pay a fair wage. Providing financial literacy training through an employee assistance program can also be extremely helpful.
Make sure that you have employment practices liability insurance (EPLI). This covers you if an employee sues you for anything ranging from sexual harassment to wrongful termination or discipline.
Consider offering hazard pay to employees who have to put themselves in dangerous situations. Let’s say there is a natural disaster and somebody does have to come into the worksite no matter what.
But, most of all, provide your employees with the tools they need to safeguard their financial well-being, both in terms of pay and benefits and in terms of knowledge and training.
Employee workplace safety goes well beyond making sure people have safe footwear. You must also address cybersecurity, psychological safety, financial security, and workplace violence.
Interested in other current employment trends? Click the link to view the recent blog: Cybersecurity and HR: How They Are Interconnected or check back for more on human resources, payroll, insurance, and benefits.