Industry View from
How compliance makes businesses safer, healthier and stronger
Protecting and improving the wellbeing of employees, customers and the environment are among the top priorities for all responsible businesses. They’re not only moral and legal duties but provide the foundations for commercial success. Businesses that can proactively demonstrate credentials stand apart from the rest, enabling them to win more work without competing on price. The need for sustainable and ethical supply chains has grown significantly over the past five years. To work with a progressively minded customer, a business needs to be prepared to demonstrate its credentials in core compliance areas. Similarly, employees are more stringent about the organisations they choose to work for. Therefore, building a progressive business that cares about its staff’s physical and mental wellbeing is critical. It’s no longer about box-ticking. Properly embraced, compliance can help unlock an organisation’s true potential, in a way which needn’t be daunting, distracting or expensive.
Effective risk management as a commercial driver
Every business faces risk, and while it can’t always be eliminated completely, effective management will help mitigate the threat. As more SMEs become increasingly active within the supply chain, the need to demonstrate compliance is key to promoting employee welfare and driving new business. The risk management cycle demonstrates the key aspects that need to be considered. This critical process should start with a gap analysis, identify mitigation tactics and corrective action, and ensure ongoing monitoring and reporting. Providing external and internal evidence of a risk management culture in the final stage will deliver major benefits to a business, such as competitive advantages, better employee engagement, and proof that the organisation is fit to supply.
Solutions that should be considered include…
• Introducing a management framework providing the structure needed to manage risk effectively
• Achieving accreditation in areas such as quality, environmental or health and safety to improve business practices
• Using technology and software to drive efficiencies, deliver ac curate reporting and improve performance visibility
• Managing staff efficiently and avoiding common employee law pitfalls
Risk management should be a core part of the business process, protecting it for the future by assisting decision making to avoid risk. It also helps to improve efficiency, build a positive reputation, and save time and money.
The importance of health and safety compliance
Employers must create an environment where staff feel safe. By competently managing compliance, they can greatly reduce the risk of a health and safety incident. The 2017/18 Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures revealed that 30.7 million working days were lost due to work-related ill health. While it’s important that companies look to contribute to a reduction in this figure, the cost and time implications for smaller businesses often deter employers from implementing effective health and safety strategies that go beyond basic compliance. However, a lack of proactive action can result in significant fines, lost productivity and even prosecutions and prison time.
Managing risk in cyber-space
The scale of the UK’s cyber-security challenge is shocking. A 2018 government report found that more than 40 per cent of businesses experienced a cyber-attack in 2017, rising to 70 per cent for larger organisations. Alcumus information security sector manager Tom Martin-Ball explains the importance of going beyond compliance when facing cyber-threats. “Thinking solely about technology limits your potential range of solutions – the greatest risks are the ones you don’t think about,” he says. “Thorough training and awareness can be as important as technology, and a combination of the two can prove instrumental to a business’s success.”
Responsibilities to people
Implementing all necessary HR policies and procedures to protect a business is vital. Claims can cause reputational damage, and place serious strain on the bottom line. In 2016/17 the average unfair dismissal award cost £16,000, with discrimination awards costing around £25,000. Obtaining best- practice employment advice in people management issues, especially if there is the likelihood of dismissal, is strongly recommended. Legal expenses insurance (LEI) is also invaluable when the unexpected happens.
Going beyond compliance
SMEs account for more than 99 per cent of all UK business and employ more than 13 million people. Although the importance of risk management is becoming more recognised, some still find it a challenge. Concerns include health and safety claims, technology failures, supply chain management and global warming, all of which affect sustainability. There are notable barriers such as time, cash-flow and lack of skills or resources. Yet, most overlook the potential risks of not being compliant, such as loss of reputation, loss of revenue or fines (in 2018, an average fine for health and safety failures was £147,000), technology or security failures, or even business closure. It’s important to identify an industry expert that understands the challenges SMEs face. A specialist offers a range of compliance knowledge that they would simply not be able to employ in-house. By demonstrating compliance through a recognised provider, it is possible to illustrate the benefits of operating beyond compliance – the commercial advantages, increase in employee wellbeing and improvements to operational processes that drive efficiency.
Alcumus delivers affordable and easily adoptable solutions, helping SMEs meet compliance obligations without distracting from core tasks. With more than 20 years’ experience and almost 40,000 clients, Alcumus has the tools to protect employees, meet demands, drive efficiency and sustainability, and provide a platform for growth. This is underpinned by software, allowing customers to access the expertise and experience of our technical experts. It also minimises the administration burden as data capture and reporting are simplified and focused on the frontline user. Whether it’s proving credentials to be a great supplier by becoming Alcumus SafeContractor accredited or ISO-certified via Alcumus ISOQAR, mitigating risk related to the use of chemicals via Alcumus Sypol, or developing effective health and safety and HR management frameworks with Alcumus PSM, there is a solution fit for all organisations.
For further information or to speak to us about your business challenges, visit www.alcumusgroup.com/sme-solution