Tools of the Trade: Training to Increase Safety, Decrease Risk

By Raul Chacon Western Regional Loss Control Manager, EMPLOYERS Insurance, Inc. | April 20, 2014

Nearly 90,000 hospitality and leisure workers had a nonfatal occupational injury or illness in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More than 26,500 of those injuries involved workers who fell, slipped, or tripped while on the job and missed days of work as a result.

Workplace injuries can be costly in terms of out-of-pocket expenses, lost productivity and potentially higher insurance premiums. A recent survey by EMPLOYERS® found that 35 percent of small businesses cite workplace safety as one of the top risks they worry about.

By investing proactively in safety programs and training, hotels can reduce workplace accidents, potentially increase employee retention and improve work productivity.

Workplace Safety as a Strategic Investment

Strategic risk management and workplace safety are vital to maximizing business performance. Not only do they protect a business' most important asset – its employees – these programs can result in real bottom line operational and cost benefits.

A key element of strategic risk management is an understanding of workers' compensation insurance and how to maximize that investment. Workers' compensation insurance covers employers for their statutory and legal obligations for employee expenses that are a direct result of on-the-job injuries or illness. While plans differ within and among states, workers' compensation benefits can include weekly payments in place of wages and reimbursement for payment of medical and rehabilitation expenses. Depending upon the jurisdiction, business owners can obtain their workers' compensation protection from private insurance companies, state insurance funds, self-insurance or self-insured groups.

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.