Create A Risk-Free Culture
What’s top of mind for most organizational leaders? Profitability, customer satisfaction and brand reputation are likely high on the list. Equally important is risk mitigation. Indeed, minimizing risk plays an underlying role in achieving profitability, customer satisfaction and brand reputation.
As pointed out in a recent article by the Indeed editorial team, “Risk mitigation refers to the process of planning and developing methods and options to identify, monitor and evaluate risks.”
But also consider what Alexis Krivkovich and Cindy Levy, Senior Partners at McKinsey & Company, note in their article, Managing the People Side of Risk:
“Most executives take managing risk quite seriously, the better to avoid the kinds of crises that can destroy value, ruin reputations, and even bring a company down…Yet processes and oversight structures, albeit essential, are only part of the story.”
Typically, risk mitigation involves business continuity planning in the event of a natural disaster or cyberattack. It is also a component of project planning to assess uncertainties that might affect achievement of business or product objectives and potentially impair company reputation and customer confidence.
The unusual circumstances and stresses of the pandemic, and particularly the wide scale adoption of remote working arrangements, add additional aspects to risk mitigation strategies as they pertain to how organizations:
- Assess the mental and physical risks of their employees while working in isolation
- Ensure the online remote workplace is free of harassment, bullying and other forms of intimidation that risk employee satisfaction and retention, as well as brand reputation
In this post we cover some of the related risk mitigation concerns and strategies to avoid them, while also noting the essential part of the story, as Krivkovich and Lewis put it, beyond establishing processes and oversight structures:
- Workplace isolation and mental health
- How to support the well-being and job satisfaction of remote workers
- The unique dangers of online harassment in email and messaging communications
How CommSafeAI proactively protects your people to mitigate risk to your brand reputation, intellectual property and employee retention
Workplace Isolation and Mental Health
Remote working was a growing trend before the pandemic; COVID-19 accelerated more widespread adoption that is likely to continue in some form or another. Indeed, the findings of a Zapier study conducted pre-pandemic anticipated the Great Resignation in postulating the end of the traditional office by 2030 for many companies. “Companies looking to attract and retain talent should think about their remote work policies. 95 percent of U.S,. knowledge workers want to work remotely, and 74 percent would be willing to quit a job to do so.”
Yet remote working, particularly exacerbated by the social isolation endured during the pandemic, has its side effects, even on employees who prefer working from home. Health experts note that with the rise of remote working, “It becomes more important to think about its effects on your employee’s health and safety…While it’s hard to remove physical risk factors from their home, one of the main issues you can address is the effects of social isolation on mental health.”
How to Support the Well-Being and Job Satisfaction of Remote Workers
It’s important to note the distinction between social isolation and loneliness; while one can contribute to the other, loneliness is emotional and isolation is structural. As Dr. Adam Hickman points out, “Managers can address both by talking about the issues that cause them.”
Hickman goes on to recommend that managers assess whether employees feel lonely or isolated or both by asking direct questions. The manager who regularly sends out a chat or email message that asks, “How are you feeling today” probably shouldn’t expect anyone to own up to feeling lonely (though if they do, it might be wise to consult with HR and/or a health counselor to determine how to respond). However, the person who feels lonely might find that someone is even asking the question at least somewhat comforting.
Similarly, managers might hold a semi-regular social “happy hour” Zoom meeting to foster a sense of office collegiality and social interaction. What can also help are periodic tokens of appreciation. One example Hickman cites is to “send a list of local coffee shops along with a small gift card ‘You need to be around people to keep the energy up. Get a cup of coffee and have a great workday’.”
Isolation, on the other hand, is more a feeling of being “out of the loop” on work matters. Decisions are made about their projects without their input, tools they need or could at least make their work easier aren’t made available to them, and/or their opinions don’t seem valued. To avoid this, put in place policies and procedures to ensure both that all team members are fully supported with the tools they need, including home office setup, and that they are “dialed in” as contributing partners to their work projects.
It’s also not a bad idea to have HR check in regularly with employees on matters related to physical well-being. For example, a recent study found that 41.2 percent of at-home workers reported experiencing back pain and 23.5 percent experiencing neck pain. If nothing else, tips on posture and ergonomic office-set up provide the message that organizational leaders care about employee well-being and want to help them achieve it. Another way to reinforce that message could be to offer free online exercise classes; what could make that even more effective is if a work team is enrolled to take the classes together.
The importance of supporting the well-being of remote workers is underlined by a study that reports 80 percent of surveyed workers said they’d consider quitting their current position for a job that focused more on employees’ mental health. It’s not just an issue of ensuring your employees remain productive while working remotely, it is also that you retain talent that works remotely. An exodus of talented employees due to inattention to their well-being harms your brand reputation, the quality of the the products/services you provide, and can even endanger intellectual property compromised by disaffected employees.
The Unique Dangers of Online Harassment in Email and Messaging Communications
Perhaps there is no greater contributor to feelings of both loneliness and social isolation in remote working arrangements than toxic language, harassment and other inappropriate content conveyed in email, chat and messaging communications. The problem is threefold:
- The online environment facilitates a “disinhibition effect” that provides a virtual petri dish for rude behavior.
- Inappropriate behavior is much easier to observe in an office environment than in a remote working environment.
- Employees are less inclined to report inappropriate behavior in a remote working environment than if they were physically present in an office.
Here’s where it is necessary to go beyond policies and procedures, as important as they are, to proactively secure the health and well-being of employees. There’s no better way to supplement and reinforce these policies and procedures than with technology that mitigate the risks of toxic communications that harm the health and well-being of your organization.
CommSafe AI Risk Mitigation
CommSafe AI Safe Communications Software™ detects in real-time potential harassment content, as well as tone and sentiment, in employee email and chat communications. It’s the intelligent, scalable and easy-to-use solution combining machine learning and human judgement and experience to mitigate risks associated with dissatisfied and/or disaffected employees
It’s simple to use, and easily integrates into your existing systems. This unique tool features an easy-to-read dashboard that displays flagged email and messaging communications for HR and security staff to review and prevent harm to your employees and your company reputation.
Take a look at this demo and learn how your organization can mitigate the people side of risk.