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Time for a Checkup – Will your Patient Survive?

Is Your Business As Healthy As You Think? – When was the last time you checked on the state of your most important business asset- your employees?

We all know that that seeing a doctor is a good thing. As Australians, preventative health action is something we are less willing to participate in- instead, seeing a doctor is something we wait to do until an emergency takes place.

A mole on the back? She’ll be right, mate. A moment of strange pain? We’ll get around to it later, nothing a few beers won’t cure. Time to get the ol’ prostate checked? Don’t point your finger at me, buddy.

The lackadaisical nature of our well-intentioned “larrikin” only goes so far. By the time we realize that we actually have a health problem- case in point, our skyrocketing obesity rates- the cost of action personally and medically is often extremely high compared to what it would have been had the issue been picked up and acted upon earlier.

So how is your business, as a patient? When was the last time it had a checkup?

A key indicator of business health is the engagement and loyalty of the employees. Getting caught up in the minutiae of day-to-day things and never pausing check on the people you pay to perform on your behalf can be not only a hindrance on your performance, it can be a recipe for disaster in the workplace. Employees can be the white blood cells and antigens as much as they can also be the disease that eats your business from the inside out. Getting employees who not only know their job, but know and understand their place in your vision for the company, share that vision and take pride in working towards it is a challenge in and of itself, but keeping such a level of engagement takes great skill.

Is someone being bullied? Is engagement at a low level? Do your staff take pride in their work and perform at a high level that shows they share your vision for the company? Has there been significant turnover in staff? Is their working environment safe? Are there clear guidelines on behavior, especially if they have public-facing roles?

From an insurance perspective, have you thought about the risks employees pose in your business? For example, I specialize in heavy motor claims. I’ve had a numerous instances where panelbeaters have told my clients that they’re not at fault and even offered to have a look at their policy with them to interpret the terms. This has led to incorrect advice and a bunch of myths and I’ve had to spend a lot of time explaining and resolving with our clients, but more importantly, it exposes the owners of the panelbeaters to potential lawsuits (in the event that it creates a financial loss to a client) as they have moved from providing a service to providing advice they are not qualified to give. If the client makes a decision based on that advice and suffers a loss, there are a range of fines under legislation that the business and its owners would be responsible for, all in the name of good-natured helpfulness.

In a day where social media requires just about any business to have a Facebook page and Twitter account, an employee’s careless response or action in anger can expose the business in numerous ways, from merely presenting the business poorly to having to address libelous claims either from being disgruntled and attacking the business directly, or from carelessly writing something which attacks someone else.

Employee engagement is an excellent measure of the health of the business. Do your employees feel they contribute to the business’ success? Do they feel like they have a voice and can bring ideas which are valued and listened to? Do they see the point of their role and feel that it is appreciated and necessary? Do they feel supported and equipped adequately for the job itself? Is their health and wellbeing considered to be as important as the work they perform?

On the other hand, do they feel stressed and overworked? Do they feel unappreciated or stagnant with no real way of getting out? Are they resigned, surly, or ever aggressive, content to do the absolute bare minimum to be paid and go home? Do they feel that they can get away with whatever they like when they are not directly supervised? At what stage does gossip appear to be turning into subversion?

In transport, this can be extremely dangerous. There have been instances were drivers- feeling they have cheated the system successfully time and again- have consumed drugs mid-route and fallen asleep, crashing into houses and yards. There have been others where drivers have had heart attacks and had fatal outcomes for themselves, passengers, and members of the public, where a more regular health and fitness review and medical checks may have prevented such an outcome. There have been others where drivers have verbally abused members of the public or school children, almost always recorded on mobile phone, losing transport contracts and business reputations in the process.

It’s always worthwhile talking with your broker about not only your business functions, but your employees- what they are responsible for, how many there are, and what you do to engage them- so that from a risk review, options for treatment can be provided. It’s also worth regularly reviewing with employees how they feel towards the company- informally as well as formally- or if there are things they are struggling with.

Because one thing is true. Waiting until your business needs to go to the emergency room is often too late. Get yours checked up regularly

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