With Anvl’s prioritization on workplace safety, we have developed a blog series that investigates the various costs of a workplace accident or injury. These fall into two categories: those that incur direct costs you can account for; and, indirect costs that aren’t immediately accountable, but that may have a long-term, serious impact. One of the indirect costs of a lost work day is a damaged or ruined business reputation. This article explores how business reputation is impacted by a workplace injury, some outcomes to expect, and how a business can effectively manage workplace injury while maintaining a positive external image and being productive.
How Workplace Accidents Affect Business Reputation
Top management at virtually every company knows the importance of maintaining a positive business reputation. They know it allows them to attract the best people, and they’ve learned they’re able to charge higher prices because the buying public perceives them as delivering more value. They know their customers tend to be loyal over the long term. And, as the Harvard Business Review points out, “they have higher price-earnings multiples and market values and lower costs of capital.”
The Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety published a study in 2016 showing that workplace injuries accounted for some $62 billion annually. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates the costs at around $1 billion per week. According to OSHA, the cost of a lost work day can include workers’ compensation payments, medical expenses, costs for legal services as well as indirect costs such as training of replacement employees, accident investigation and implementation of corrective measures, lost productivity, repairs of damaged equipment and property, and costs associated with lower employee morale and absenteeism. Notably missing from this list are the fines imposed by government units, which in the case of Wells Fargo exceeded $3 billion.
The National Safety Council takes an even broader view. They estimate that work-related injury and death cost $170.8 billion in 2018, with a sobering comment that every worker in the affected company must produce an added $1,100 to offset the cost of work injuries. Others point out that almost 50 employees sustain workplace injuries every minute of every workweek, and 17 die on the job every day.
Even with all the costs associated with workplace injury, the damage to a company’s reputation is often the most serious consequence that can last for months or years after an injury or death occurs. It begins with the loss of confidence among stakeholders. These can include:
- Customers who stop buying from the firm.
- Prospective customers who likely would have bought from the firm.
- Investors who stop buying or, even worse, sell their holdings, which can cause the company’s stock to tumble. In turn, that nose-dive can lay waste to a company’s market capitalization.
- Strategic partners (and potential new strategic partners) that dissolve or put relations on hold.
- Customers, competitors, and bad actors may post negative info that further harms the public perception of the company. This is relevant because a BrightLocal survey found that 93 percent of consumers read online reviews, while another study determined that 80 percent of consumers will not buy from companies with negative reviews.
How Workplace Safety Can Prevent Damage to Your Reputation
In our previous post in our Cost of a Lost Work Day series, we noted that 96% of workplace injuries are preventable, predictable cases. A good starting point for preventing worker injury and damage to a company’s reputation lies with leading indicators. Some examples of leading indicators include a ratio of safe to unsafe observations of work underway, the number of inspections completed, or the percentage of corrective actions taken. They help predict how injuries might occur because they reveal where danger points exist.
How to Respond to an Injury Incident
The first step is obvious: Seek medical assistance for the injured party. Then, be sure the employee files a report with the Workers’ Comp carrier and the company within 30 days. Failing to file could cost the injured worker his or her Workers’ Comp coverage.
How the company handles the incident internally and externally is what can make or break the company’s reputation, so keep these actions in mind.
- Remember to always take the position that the injury is not the worker’s fault. The company is accountable because it did not protect their workers. The company left gaps in its safety protocol.
- Make sure employees do not communicate accidents on social media or to third parties. Let the company handle the statement and response to avoid an initial negative image.
- Communication is everything….
- Invest in software that will catch risks before they become a problem so workers can identify when jobs need to be stopped immediately.
- Crisis communication should be published quickly, and it should be consistent between multiple departments and management.
- Invest in innovative technologies that will help you focus on safety and accident prevention
- Instead of “slapping on a Band-Aid” to maintain reputation through media interviews and the like, take concrete steps and demonstrate that you are making safety improvements for the long term. This saves the company’s reputation and makes the workplace safer.
In today’s connected world, news of a major injury event can go viral and become a worldwide topic of discussion in just hours. Instant communication via the Internet can ruin a company’s reputation in the short space between lunch hour and quitting time.
Anvl’s safety software puts frontline individual workers in a position to become part of the team that identifies risks in real-time. It gives them a direct connection to management, so they can take immediate action when needed. Read more about Anvl’s practical and effective software tools that can help you build company-wide safety consciousness and prevent the need for reputation repair.