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Why it’s important small businesses are compliant

Up to five million Australians are expected to be bullied over the course of their careers.

With bullying and harassment in the workplace estimated to cost the economy up to $36 billion a year in lost productivity, there’s no doubt that the cost of such workplace issues, both legally and financially is a lot for Australian organisations to handle.

The incidence of sexual harassment and bullying claims seem to be increasing with more and more high-profile cases coming to light about young women being sexually harassed or bullied in workplaces.

Certainly, the emergence of stories such as the David Jones sexual harassment case and the unfortunate outcome of café worker Brodie Panlock who committed suicide after being bullied at work, has highlighted the need for Australian businesses to educate their employees on workplace compliance issues.

Looking at what poor employee knowledge in areas like workplace bullying, sexual and other forms of harassment and poor occupational health and safety (OH&S) practices can cost businesses, small business enterprises (SMEs) must realise the importance of educating staff on these matters and minimising the risks involved.

The need for SMEs ensuring a safe and compliant workplace is critical in contemporary workplaces. Yet, when it comes to compliance, many SMEs find themselves unaware and vulnerable with how to deal with the enormity and risk of an uneducated workforce as well as their obligations to employee training.

I should acknowledge those SMEs who recognise the importance but have found themselves at a crossroads because of an overemphasis of workplace training being targeted towards big businesses, rather than focusing on SMEs. This is regretful because 97 per cent of Australian businesses have less than 50 employees – these businesses cannot be ignored.

Up until now, a major barrier to SMEs gaining high quality training and putting polices in place to guard against the ramifications of issues such as workplace harassment is the lack of resources, time and extra funds available to pay for such costs. Fortunately, there are ways for SMEs to overcome this problem.

The benefits of online training for SMEs are not to be underestimated. Online training can educate employees quickly, easily, anywhere, any time and at any pace. Its cost effectiveness also makes it highly suitable for SMEs who undoubtedly have much smaller budgets than larger organisations to allocate to compliance training needs.

I strongly encourage them to proactively seek employee education solutions in order to avoid the risk and litigation a non-compliant workplace brings.

At Learning Seat, we’ve just launched a new eLearning platform, LearnConnect that specifically helps small businesses tackle these delicate issues. LearnConnect is an off-the shelf product with no long term contractual obligations and costs up to 80 per cent less than other alternatives.

So as an SME, you now have a choice, do you comply? Or face the risks associated with a non-compliant workplace?

* As a special introductory offer, LearnConnect is offering 50 per cent off all available courses until 31 December, 2011.

– Tim Legge is the CEO of Learning Seat.

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