Small business owners may be underselling an important factor that could give them an edge when recruiting new talent, according to a new survey of small business employees by EMPLOYERS, a national small business workers’ compensation insurer. The survey found that the safety of the work environment was among the top criteria employees consider when evaluating a new job offer. It ranked behind expected criteria such as compensation, the nature of the work and proximity to home, but ahead of factors such as the quality of potential coworkers and opportunities for professional growth.
The survey also found that while most (89 percent) small business employees believe their employers make workplace safety a high priority, one out of 10 disagree. People who work at businesses that employ 86 to 100 people were more likely to say their employer prioritizes workplace safety (96 percent), compared to people who work at micro-businesses that have one to nine employees (87 percent).
Employees of certified women-owned business were also more likely to believe their employer places an extremely high priority on workplace safety (62 percent). Women-owned-businesses are more likely than the average small business to provide workplace safety training once a year.
“In today’s tight labor market, it’s important that small businesses, which employ more than half of the American workforce, recognize safety of the work environment is a top priority for employees. One way for employers to attract and retain valued talent is to have and communicate a commitment to workplace safety. By fostering a safe work environment, small businesses can protect and retain their most valuable asset, their employees,” said David Quezada, vice president of Loss Control at EMPLOYERS.
Employees Feel Comfortable Addressing Workplace Safety, But Employers Are Falling Short in Providing Training
The survey also explored the comfort level small business employees have addressing workplace safety concerns with management. More than half of employees (52 percent) said they would report concerns to the business owner and nearly half (48 percent) said they would speak with a direct supervisor. Women said they are more comfortable reporting work-related safety issues (51 percent) than men (43 percent).
While workplace safety is a priority for many small businesses, the survey reveals that more can be done to foster safe work environments:
- 17 percent of all small business employees surveyed say they never receive workplace safety training.
- 25 percent of micro-businesses employees (9 or fewer employees), say they never receive workplace safety training.
- 40 percent of small business employees say their employer does not display OSHA signage prominently or they are not sure if it is displayed,
How to Create a Culture of Safety in the Workplace
“Creating a culture of workplace safety starts at the top,” Quezada said. “Business owners and management need to set an example by offering regular training and displaying proper safety signage, as well as by being open to their employees who report concerns. Yet with the need for small business owners to wear many hats, and without the luxury of dedicated risk professionals on staff, many could benefit from additional resources to help them foster a safe work environment.”
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