Author: Peter Klebanoff, Vice President of Healthcare Sales
The Great Resignation is still reverberating two years on, creating havoc in the form of turnover and attrition in most industries. While healthcare and hospitality jobs are the frontline bellwethers of staffing shortages, just about every sector is experiencing challenges with its workforce in the wake of this unparalleled exodus. So why is this happening? Now that the pandemic has been declared over, what’s the mystery behind the continued shortages?
One Gallup poll states that 743 million or 23% of employees worldwide have experienced violence or harassment in their workplace. Meanwhile, over 2.6 million Americans were victims of nonfatal workplace injuries in 2021. Further, incivility has escalated in recent years, leading 45% of employees to want to quit after a customer has yelled or shown aggression toward them. These statistics suggest that the worker shortage may be traced to either fear of an unsafe work environment or direct experiences in them.
Between the pandemic and a meteoric rise in workplace violence and injuries, talented workers have left these unsafe workplaces and have chosen to find employers who value their safety.
Does My Job Put Me at Risk for Workplace Violence?
Sadly, workplace violence can happen anywhere and in any industry. With the rising mental health crisis, personal safety is becoming a flashpoint across a spectrum of careers. According to OSHA, those at an elevated risk of workplace violence are “workers who exchange money with the public, delivery drivers, healthcare professionals, public service workers, customer service agents, law enforcement personnel, and those who work alone or in small groups.”
Whether it’s safety precautions in a psychiatric unit, hotel, ambulance or restaurant, investing in the protection of employees shouldn’t be considered simply an investment in public optics. Rather, safety precautions should be viewed as an investment in the long-term financial success of your operation.
OSHA also indicates, “In most workplaces where risk factors can be identified, the risk of assault can be prevented or minimized if employers take appropriate precautions.” When employers put workplace violence and injury prevention measures in place in high-risk situations — whether in a poorly-lit stairwell of a health care facility, behind closed doors in a hotel or in a dangerous loading zone where workers are frequently injured — they can prevent these expensive events that lead to workers’ comp claims and high turnover.
Workers deserve to feel free from harm and there is a direct correlation between an employer’s profitability and their ability to make their employees feel safe — and be safe. As of January 2022, only 45% of workers are aware of their company’s safety plan.
Can Employers Save Money by Investing in Workplace Safety Measures?
There’s no question that finding good help is harder than ever — and it’s hurting the bottom line of many businesses. Not only are employees more expensive than ever, but the technology and recruitment fees to find qualified employees have also increased significantly. Further, employers need to position themselves as having a desirable place to work that places safety as a top priority in order to stay competitive.
The loss of an employee after an incidence of violence or an accident equates to exorbitant costs in replacing them. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reported that, on average, it costs a company “Six to nine months of an employee’s salary to replace him or her. For an employee making $60,000 per year, that comes out to $30,000 – $45,000 in recruiting and training costs.”
When examining the money spent — and lost — on employee turnover, it’s easy to see that simply letting the problem continue as-is is not financially sustainable. The focus should be shifted to employee retention and staying competitive in the marketplace with workplace safety measures that appeal to the right candidates.
The question then becomes: How can employers attract new employees and keep current ones in their positions while making them feel like their safety concerns have been addressed?
Qualified and talented employees desire more from employers than just a paycheck — they want to have peace of mind and feel safe at work in an increasingly volatile world. Well-being is a one-of-a-kind ROI for employers who opt to install innovative security solutions to protect their people. The fear that something bad will happen while on the job that occupies the space in a worker’s mind can instead be replaced with a focus on performing their best. Meanwhile, saving money by retaining existing workers and attracting skilled employees with technology that addresses security issues will mitigate staffing shortages and protect profitability.
Thankfully, technology can help solve this dilemma and save money on workers’ comp claims, which saves on future insurance premiums. Technology-based security solutions can also save in knowledge transfer between employees, improve company culture, reduce the likelihood of unionization and the loss of employee productivity, and help prevent potential lawsuits and legal fees. In short, all of this can lead to the promotion of greater organizational profitability.
Are Panic Buttons Effective in Preventing Workplace Violence or Quickly Addressing Dangerous Situations?
Attempts to de-escalate potentially violent situations and adding protocols to prevent accidents only go so far. In addition, conflict resolution training, though effective in many instances, does not always work. When an incident begins to unfold, workers need a wearable solution that doesn’t alert their assailant and allows their distress to be immediately visible even when they’re out of sight from co-workers.
Wearable “screamer” panic buttons are readily available on the marketplace but they’re not all created equally. These screamer panic buttons can further escalate conflicts or simply not even be heard in an industrial setting where someone is being harassed or injured.
While there are some panic buttons that don’t create a sound, most of them typically rely on networks that lack coverage in dead zones like stairwells, storage closets and exterior portions of the facility, so even though they’re silent, the signal may not reach security in time to intervene. Employers also need to consider the safety of their customers and guests and how they can better serve their experience — and safety is a top-of-mind priority.
To change the narrative, employers need a wearable, silent panic button solution that doesn’t alert attackers and doesn’t rely on spotty network coverage. They need one that quickly calls for proactive or reactive help from any place within a building, that’s easily implemented and that is free from dead zones.
The time has come for employees to be free from fear while doing their job. That’s why we created a breakthrough solution that helps permanently address the workplace violence and injury crisis.