The Challenge of Managing Employee Behavioral Risk

January 16, 2018

Jason C. McDaniel, VP of Employee and Student Assistance Programs at AllOne Health, presents his expertise with managing employee behavioral risk in a workplace.

A prevailing business challenge for all organizations, for-profit or not-for-profit, public or private sector, service or manufacturing in orientation, is how to most effectively leverage company assets to produce solid returns on those assets. Those returns are defined by the organization’s stakeholders. Primarily, companies are faced with managing the following asset categories: financial, building and equipment, information, and human.

The implicit objective among all of these asset classes is to minimize variability or risk, while maximizing economic value and return on investment. Effective organizations are continuously seeking new and innovative means of reducing costs associated with maintaining such assets, of allocating them in an optimal manner, and of generating maximum revenues from the deployment of such assets.

Given the relative scarcity of most assets, this ever-evolving challenge of organizational portfolio management has always been arduous. Yet, in today’s economic environment it is even more so. Further, as the U.S. economy continues its shift toward becoming increasingly service and knowledge based, the categorical asset that is most relevant in terms of organizational success is human.

In the modern corporation, it is the collective effort of people that drive results and produce sought after outcomes for customers. Yet, although human beings are seminal to higher practical and financial returns, they concurrently bring with them greater risk than other assets. In essence, human capital is the “wild card” of contemporary organizational life, presenting both immense promise and ever-potential peril.

Unfortunately, much of the time, management does a lackluster job in corralling the risk associated with its human assets, often because such variability is approached with a numbers or machine-like logic, or even worse, ignored altogether. Because of their very nature, human assets must be handled with a much more attentive and pliable psycho-logic. To casually disregard the complex needs of staff and pretend that people can be serviced in a callous assembly line manner is to shun the reality of assuming behavioral risk as an inherent cost of doing business.

Behavioral risk, essentially employee behavior that has a high probability of leading to negative consequences for the employer, is omnipresent. If discounted or deferred, it can impact organizations in at least the following negative manners:

  • defending expensive lawsuits associated with real or perceived employee misbehavior
  • dealing with angry or disengaged workers
  • struggling to restore flagging workgroup morale
  • coping with accidents
  • dealing with violations attributable to alcohol, drug, or emotional impairments

EAPs are well positioned as a key resource to assist companies with more proactively and assertively managing behavioral risk. Employee assistance professionals have daily experience with intervening to help employees through very difficult life trials and tribulations, while simultaneously diffusing heated conflicts or misunderstandings that can be a serious liability to employers.

Additionally, EAPs are adept at providing guidance to company managers on how to avoid the pitfalls associated with sticky, human resource issues, so that the needs of the employee can be met in a humane manner, while the employer can continue to hold the employee accountable for performance-related results.

AllOne Health offers EAP services providing management counseling, consider consulting with your EAP if you are alarmed by the risky behavior of an employee.