How to Use Technology to Improve Duty of Care Obligations
Duty of Care is gaining momentum. The idea is simple: employers have a duty to keep their people safe. Whether your employees are on-site or travelling, in a cubicle or on a construction site, in the States or abroad, that duty remains – to protect your employees from unnecessary risk of harm. But an increasingly mobile and global workforce has brought new challenges to fulfilling these obligations. Thankfully, recent technology trends can help you overcome these challenges through improved emergency monitoring, better employee location tracking and streamlined communications.
Monitor for Emergencies
The first step in protecting employees is identifying the emergent threat quickly and accurately. Today, threats come in all shapes and sizes. Some threats – like a fire, flooding or active shooter – are hyperlocal. They only affect employees in one city, building, or even floor. To protect your people and locations from these local threats, you need to monitor hyperlocal information resources that alert you to danger down to the street level. Examples of hyperlocal sources include a city’s local police department or news outlets. You can also gather threat detail from your employees, people on the frontlines who share threatening events as soon as they appear.
As soon as you understand three elements of an emergency – event type, severity level and proximity to your people and assets – you can jump into action by communicating with your people, navigating them away from danger.
Better Understand Employee Location
Clearly seeing a threat’s proximity to your employees is important. And with today’s mobile workforce, your employees’ location is far from set in stone. Employees travel regularly, and many work out of satellite offices. In an emergency, you need to know the exact location of your employees, so you can communicate to them, account for them, and give them the help they need.
Organizations can better understand the approximate, if not exact location of their employees through three available resources:
- Mobile apps: Employees can share exact location through mobile applications on their smartphones.
- RFID tags: When your employees enter the building with their key cards, use that data to group people into office locations.
- Travel itineraries: Use your employees’ travel data to create dynamic groups around travel cities.
Modern monitoring and communication software uses this location data to display your employees and active threats on the same interactive map, boosting your ability to distribute timely information to your people.
Communicate More Confidently
With threat data and employee locations on the same screen, you can now quickly communicate with your affected employees to mitigate loss. But in an emergency, you cannot assume employees will be at their desks or have their phones on them. So you need software which can overcome the unknowns and deliver your message when it matters most.
Robust emergency monitoring and communication systems recognize these uncertainties, allowing you to reach your employees through multiple channels. Email, text or phone in isolation will likely miss some employees, so use all channels simultaneously. Often, though, just sending a message is not enough. Simply blasting a mass notification is akin to shouting into the dark and hoping someone hears you. To fulfill your duty of care, that’s not enough. You need to give your employees a way to respond, so that you know they are safe. Using communication software that allows for two-way communication gives you that peace of mind – and lets your employees alert you if they are in danger.
Emergency communication doesn’t need to stop there. In a crisis, employees benefit from status updates, helpful resources guides, and ongoing instruction on what to do next. For this reason, you can host event pages: webpages that provide a single place to find everything related to a specific event. By posting updates on the page, you can inform your employees without having to send new alerts each time, and employees know where to go to get caught up on the latest developments.
Piecing It Together to Fulfill Your Duty of Care
Interestingly, as we grow our global footprint and dependencies, we must continue to improve our ability to survey for and respond to local threats. Protecting employees from local threats requires near real-time communication. It’s no longer enough to use one system to monitor for events and another to communicate with your people. It’s too inefficient. Luckily, these systems have converged to improve response times and improve outcomes during events, helping your organization live up to and exceed duty of care responsibilities.