You have been working day and night on your business and your hard work is finally starting to show the results of your endless labour. But before you get too comfortable, remember that now that you have built something successful, it’s time to protect it. Yes, there are many risks that small businesses face from an economic standpoint, but remember the strength of the economy is not the only thing you should have your eye on. Employee happiness and comfort is an indicator that can make you or break you.
Employees are significant assets to your business, however, they also pose a great risk, especially if you don’t treat them as they should be treated. More and more companies are getting sued, not only by clients or customers on the outside, but from the inside, by mistreated and unhappy employees.
There are many reasons for which an employee can turn his or her back on her workplace and use the legal system to ruin their reputation, their finances, and morale. However, there are things that employers can do to protect themselves and their business from such situations, at least from basic mistakes that will create exposure to damages.
1.Follow your own rules
If you expect employees to follow a Code of Conduct or internal policies, remember to follow them yourself. It doesn’t take an overly intelligent lawyer or even employee to turn your own words against you. Make sure that you are always a prime example of good and compliant behaviour, along with the management team. Show due diligence by creating workshops and training seminars focusing on acceptable behaviour so that there is no excuse as to why it was not followed, whether the instance involved yourself, your staff, or your management team.
2. Make sure you have Good Reason to Let Them Go
Unfortunately, we aren’t all lucky enough to make ideal hiring decisions, and other times there are situations outside our control that will bring us to the unfortunate task of letting someone go. However, you better be ready to back your decision. Some small businesses make the mistake of giving all employees stellar performance records, even if they don’t accurately describe what’s being done, and then run into issues when someone is fired for poor performance. If they have been made redundant, show a management analysis which shows that clearly there was no need for them. By being honest with your employees and with yourself, you can protect yourself from legal action.
3. Always explore their claims
If someone is complaining that they are being harassed at work or that there’s something affecting their safety or well-being, make sure you take this seriously. Investigate the matter as best as you can, fix the problem if there is one, and report on it. Having your inquiries, steps, and results in writing are an important part of piecing together your due diligence if there is a case later on. Keep the instigator of the claim in the loop on the status of things, to ensure that they know that you are taking it seriously and acting on it. Now if they ever complain that a claim wasn’t taken seriously or under consideration at all, you have proof of your actions.
4. Be conscious of the situation
If you know that there is bad blood between a supervisor and staff member or that there have been complaints made, keep your hand on the pulse. You don’t want to be in the unfortunate situation of where someone takes out their personal likes and dislikes on the other person by unwarranted disciplinary actions or complaints. Be clear on the situation as it arises and act justly but also shrewdly on difficult situations like this. Put yourself in a lawyer’s shoes and see what they could come up with to support a claim. Now you know what NOT to do.
As much as you might try to protect your business from legal actions on the part of your employees, there will be situations where you’ll have to find a law firm in Montreal that offer a full range of legal services to businesses. Investing in good counsel early in the process will help your business grow into a resilient entity which is safe for both the employees and the employer.