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Running a growing business is hard work. It’s a constant struggle to hit your goals while protecting the organization from hazards present around every corner. It can feel overwhelming and difficult to determine what threats to eradicate. We have identified four risks you can’t afford to leave unaddressed.

Cybersecurity

Its feels like every day we hear about a large company being hacked or of a new data breach in the news. As a small business owner, you might believe you are safe. Why would anybody target your small business when they have more to gain from attacking a large company? The reality is that a small business is more likely to be the victim of a successful cyber-attack. The 2018 State of Cybersecurity in Small and Medium Size Business study stated that small businesses face stronger chances of cyber-attacks than larger companies in 2019.

Protecting your business from cyberattacks doesn’t have to be expensive. There are a few low-cost policies you can implement that will have a considerable effect on mitigating successful cyber-attacks.

The first thing you can do is implement a password policy in your organization. A password policy addresses how passwords are stored, shared, and generated. If you want to learn more about password policies, check out our article here.

Secondly, make your employees aware of the most common email attacks. Periodically test them by initiating mock attacks to see if the lessons have had a lasting effect. If your employees fall for your mock attacks, don’t discipline them. Just go over the signs in the attack they should have spotted. If you punish the employee, they are less likely to come forward in the event of a real attack. When it comes to cyber-attacks, the faster you can react, the more damage you can mitigate.

Thirdly, make sure that all the software on your machines is up to date and is still supported with security updates by the manufacturer. Malicious actors seek out and exploit security holes in unsupported or poorly supported software.

EEOC compliance

A significant risk to small businesses is fines and possible litigation stemming from improper adherence to EEOC regulations and guidelines. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is tasked with enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against job applicants and employees. This means that you need to be sure you are providing a safe and inclusive environment for your employees, in accordance with the law.

The top five most frequently filed discriminations chargers in 2018 were in the areas of:

The risk of violating the laws that govern discrimination in the workplace is present throughout the entire employee life cycle, from recruitment to retirement. It's essential that you, or someone on your team, stay abreast of all standards and regulations overseeing discrimination. These regulations are constantly evolving; keeping up with and adequately implementing them will become more complicated as your business grows.

It’s essential to have skilled and seasoned HR specialists on your team. When it comes to EEOC compliance, small mistakes can become costly ones. Improper management of employee complaints can lead to expensive employment lawsuits. These lawsuits burden small business owners with fines from $3,000 to $170,000, substantial emotional hardships, ruined reputations, and long-term impact on company operations.

Documentation

Proper documentation and record-keeping are essential to your business. You have to stay compliant under the law and avoid unnecessary litigation. Propper documentation can save companies money and PR headaches. Your company’s approach to documentation must be deliberate, meticulous, and methodical.

First, make sure your organization is storing and archiving documents per your local, state, and federal laws. Never keep records longer than you must. For guidance, check with your local, state, and federal laws on how the records must be maintained. For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that medical information be kept separate from employee personnel files. Record access must always be restricted. If you want to know what laws apply to your business based on your employee size, check out our handy tool here.

Second, performance documentation is essential to protecting your business. This can take the form of routine performance evaluation and disciplinary documentation. Documentation should be as quantitative as possible and objective.

Third, generate and distribute an employee handbook. Your employee handbook is the policy expression of your companies’ values and culture. You cross your T’s and dot your I’s when it comes to handbooks. Vague and non-transparent written rules do not do the trick. The employee handbook is the first place your employees will look if they have questions or concerns about your policies or benefits. Make sure to update your employee handbook as the regulatory landscape and your company evolves.

Workers compensation

The Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index estimates that workplace injuries cost American business $1 Billion per week on direct workers' compensation costs alone. That’s $52 Billion a year. The magnitude of the figure alone expresses the importance of maintaining a safe workplace.

The foundation of a safe workplace is a culture of safety. Training programs and policies will not be effective if everyone in your organization is not committed to creating and maintaining a safe work environment. Once you have everyone on board, the next step is to create safety policies and start a training program. Your employees should be trained on how to operate equipment and what to do in case of an emergency. You should have clear policies on how to report hazards and injuries. Research the most common injuries in your industry and have procedures in place for them. According to OSHA, slips, trips, and falls are the most common industrial accidents. They account for 15% of industry deaths and injuries. This makes having a clearly outlined spill procedure a top priority.

Once your employees know how to work safely and report problems, the responsibility shifts to you the business owner. Business owners need to have machines and equipment properly maintained. Routine inspections must be conducted regularly. Because training and policies only work if the workplace is managed correctly.

Accidents can never be completely avoided, just mitigated. Therefore, most states mandate that employers have workers compensation insurance. If you want to learn how workers’ compensation works, check our workers’ comp 101 article.

To conclude, we know that running a business is hard and stressful work. That's why we have dedicated ourselves to helping business owners navigate the complicated regulatory landscape and manage their employer responsibilities. So, you can grow your business with confidence.