Unexpected Risks in Managing an Organization

Safety risks are not the only risk category to monitor

Every time I conduct an organisational review or assessment I am faced with the hard evidence that the organisation only includes OHS risks in their risk management plans. They do this mainly to avoid safety fines and be seen to do the right things by their employees and insurers.

However, even just one of the following risks could destroy your organisation in a single occurrence and yet few organisations are even aware of the risk involved.

Hiring the wrong employee is dangerous

Lack of recruitment processes and reference checking can cause your organisation to employ a time bomb, in the form of an employee. Your employee can be working fine right up to a single event that turns them into a threat within your organisation.

Some of the risks that will cause unexpected damages to your organisation from disgruntled employees are:

  • They decide to access and steal/destroy all your electronic files
  • They obtain confidential information and release it to the media causing a public relations nightmare and potential legal action
  • They commence legal action as a result of your actions towards them. Usually caused by wrongful terminations, sexual harassment or even workplace bullying.

As you can see from this list, even one of these risks will cost thousands to recover from. Employee management is not seen as critical in the risk management planning and left to untrained managers to control.

Workplace parties or celebrations turn ugly

Organisations now have to be careful when having workplace parties and ensure documented risk plans are in place first. This is because of the huge legal risk to the organisation from:

  • Employees sexually harassing of assaulting others
  • Intoxication and driving home while drunk
  • Inappropriate behaviour at and after the party

It may sound like good fun to tease a drunk employee at the time, but the next day the organisation may receive a phone call that seeks compensation and legal action.

Recently even letting employees book in hotels for after the event has caused problems for the organisation. It seems the organisation is responsible for their wellbeing even when they are not at work events. One employee successfully sued the company when she was injured away from work while having sex at a hotel as courts determined that she stayed in the hotel as a result of being in the area during the day for work.

Domestic violence is a common workplace incident now

Your organisation now even needs to consider the risks from your employees partners or social friends. If the external relationship degrades and the partner is aggressive or violent, the first you will know is when they are standing in your lobby or reception area with a weapon threatening to kill themselves or others.

Organisations have to consider how they will manage these risks from workplace violence, even if the type of services they perform are not normally considered dangerous.

You need to look at how easy is it for someone of the street to enter your offices with a weapon. Having seen and responded to these types of events, one where a partner tried to sever an employee’s head while seated in the meal room with other employees, has shown me how fast they can escalate.

It only takes seconds for an armed or aggressive person to enter a reception area and start attacking employees. Organisations need to review how easy and what paths that intruder could take. Like the example from before, the intruder was able to walk all the way through the organisation and into their meal area before we were able to stop her before the injury was severe.

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