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The staffing industry can be a complex one, with staffing agencies, client companies and employees all having slightly different perspectives and needs, but everyone benefits from safety.
It's this mindset that spurred my company, Helpmates, to become the first organization to earn the Safety Standard of ExcellenceSM (SSE) mark from the American Staffing Association. Achieving the mark meant undergoing an assessment to demonstrate we maintain workplace safety best practices and have a commitment to continuous improvement.
But earning the SSE mark was just the most recent step we took, and it will not be the last. Maintaining safety in the staffing industry has its challenges, as frequently there are workers being placed at worksites that are new to them and being supervised by host employers that control the means and manner of work being performed. Data has shown that temporary workers and contracted employees can have a higher risk of workplace injuries and be assigned more hazardous roles, so it's important that we empower our employees to recognize hazards and work with the host employer to protect them.
The importance of safety for a company like ours has a foundation; California has historically been a strong supporter of workers compensation, so cases can have a measurable impact on companies' bottom line. In the 1990s, we made safety a top priority – a corporate value – and only put people in positions they had the experience to do safely. As a result, we cut workplace liability costs in half.
The benefits of safety are not merely financial. Through Inavero and the net promoter system, we regularly survey our employees, and on the question, "Would you recommend this company as a place to work for a friend?" we rank in the top 1% in the nation. That ranking, I believe, comes from showing our people every day that we will work to keep them safe, wherever they are.
Some might see safety and the SSE mark as a marketing-driven thing, but that's not the case at Helpmates. The mark is not yet a marketplace differentiator, though I hope it will become one. Down the road, insurance companies might even reward companies that complete the program with reduced premiums. But right now, pursuing the SSE mark is the right thing to do as an employer because it protects our people, and it's the right thing to do as a business because it saves money and increases profit.
Even being unsuccessful in pursuing the mark can have positive outcomes. When we started the process, we had a new director of risk management and safety in place, and completing the submission gave us a chance to get fresh eyes on our operation and identify potential areas for improvement, ensuring that we would become safer than we were when we began the process.
And being safe is at the heart of what we do. The standard I follow is, I want to place my employees where I'd be willing to place my kids. If we would not place our kids on the job, we will not place our employees there either. It's all about safety!
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