Every corporation needs an excellent in-house attorney to fight complex legal battles in their stead—someone to act in the best interests of the company and its future. In addition to the everyday intricacies of business litigation, house counsel may also have to field lawsuits from current or former employees who have a legal objection to something that happened during their tenure at the business. When employee lawsuits become a pervasive issue at a business, not only is the cost in billable hours exponential, but the legal judgements that result from these litigations can be devastating for companies. While litigation in general can be characterized as the cost of doing business, companies with healthy corporate culture experience a much lower rate of employee lawsuits. So, how can healthy corporate culture reduce the chance of a lawsuit?
Corporations across the United States are starting to understand the value of healthy corporate culture. Employee lawsuits aside, unhealthy corporate culture can have detrimental, snowballing effects that occur when employees are unhappy in their capacity and unengaged in their work. This is why corporations must improve their culture from within, so that employee retention and productivity remain high. Corporations also have millennials making up the majority of the workforce in the nation, complete with a set of values that propels them to seek a better work-life balance. This means that millennials are less likely to stay in a job where they are unhappy, and will simply seek a more amendable opportunity that allows them to have the work-life balance they desire.
When employees do not feel heard or valued by their employer, they’re far more likely to file a lawsuit related to their grievance. And unfortunately, no company is safe. In 2010, 99,922 EEOC charges were filed in the state of Florida alone, a datapoint that makes leadership wonder not if they’ll be the target of a lawsuit, but when. Employee lawsuits can drag out over months or even years, exponentially getting more expensive. The average settlement in an employee claim or lawsuit is $40,000. That expense alone can be devastating to a company, but that does not account for the disruption to daily operations, and the fact that litigation costs are on a steady rise. In 10% of cases, settlements result in $1 million or greater, a sum that could be the beginning of the end for many medium to small corporations.
The risk of a lawsuit can be even greater depending on the state in which it is filed. According to the Hiscox Group, a majority of states carry around a 10% change of having an employee lawsuit filed against them. However, in Georgia, the probability is 19%. In states like New Mexico, California, and Nevada, the probability can be as high as 55%. The area with the highest probability of litigation is the District of Columbia, with a terrifying 81% chance. The reason for the wide range in probabilities is two-fold: First, the legal standards in each state regarding discrimination and hostile work environments can vary. Secondly, the states with higher risks have more binding laws regarding litigation that can create extra hurdles for companies at the state level. This is why corporations must stay current on employment legislation, especially if they have locations across multiple states/jurisdictions.
So, how can corporations protect themselves against litigation from current or former employees? In-house counsel fields lawsuits when they are filed, but did you know there was a more proactive method to combatting employee litigation? The answer is simple: healthy corporate culture. When a corporation has a healthy corporate culture, it means that the employees feel valued by their employers in their capacity within the organization. It means that employees who feel valued are engaged, thereby greasing the wheels of internal, daily operations. This increased productivity means progress for the company, and the cycle of healthy corporate culture begins anew with leadership rewarding engaged employees for their hard work.
Research shows that the number one reason behind employee lawsuits is retaliation. In an average scenario, the employee reports an internal issue, usually regarding a form of discrimination. Following the inclusion of the investigation, when the employee cannot track for upward mobility, or a form of unwarranted disciplinary action occurs, they assume the reason is for reporting the previous issue. This can result in that employee filing a lawsuit for receiving unfair treatment on behalf of their employer. When organizations have healthy corporate culture, this is far less likely to occur.
If your company or organization needs a corporate culture overhaul, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our corporate culture audit program. We can help you improve your business from within and decrease the likelihood of employee lawsuits. When it comes to your business, you should expect facts, not fiction.
Culture can be the beginning and end of your company. Many executives and other members of leadership simply think of corporate culture as what the company stands for. This can be expressed through a corporation’s mission statement, their reported “vision,” or their promise to deliver their customers with the best products and services available. Corporate culture actually goes much deeper, beneath the surface to which the consumer public is privy. The MISTI Training Institute actually defines corporate culture as “the set of enduring and underlying assumptions and norms that determine how things are actually done in the organization.” It is not enough for leadership to state that they have inspiring beliefs and mission statements, if they do not run corporations to reflect those beliefs.
Even after hearing a more definitive explanation of
corporate culture, many executives may still shrug their shoulders and insist
that they have a great corporate culture. They think operations are
streamlined, employees are engaged, and there are no weak links in the chain.
They take solace in the fact that they have things like Taco Tuesdays, or
Casual Fridays that improve the work environment and keep employees happy.
While these are great ways to foster comradery within the workforce, they are
band aid solutions to happy employees. The bottom line is: Healthy corporate
culture begins with happy employees.
A recent study conducted by Glassdoor indicates that a majority of working individuals in the United States would prefer a healthy corporate culture to a higher salary or rate of pay. Their day-to-day becomes manageable when they feel as if they are part of a larger team with a greater purpose. This graphic displays the cyclical nature of healthy corporate culture in motion. The cycle begins with happy employees. When trying to improve employee morale, leadership should strongly consider an internal audit of their company’s culture to identify pervasive issues within their corporation’s operating structure. Events like birthday parties for employees, or buying lunch for the office every few weeks are nice gestures by leadership, but they cannot act as solutions to repetitive issues. When these issues are not addressed within the corporation, employees often feel as if their value begins and ends with their productivity, as if they are cogs in a larger machine they cannot control. When leadership actively engages with employee concern on operation issues and makes dedicated and focused attempts to fix them, employees feel as if their voices are heard and their input is valued within the organization.
This leads to improved engagement on behalf of those valued
employees. They are prompt to work, freshly-groomed and instilled with a sense
of purpose as their co-workers progress with them towards the organization’s
goal. The level of communication between employees will not only improve in
quality, but the rate of response to correspondence also has the potential to
increase dramatically, because the employees are engaged in the process and are
eager to complete tasks on time—possibly even early.
Once employee engagement is up, leadership can expect to see
an increase in the productivity of the workforce as a whole. Engaged employees
approach their task with the confidence of a professional, and the confidence
that comes from the feeling of support within the organization. Studies have
shown that productivity can increase by as much as 28% when a corporation’s
culture is given a major overhaul.
When productivity increases, everybody in the company
benefits. Having their requisites satisfied, leadership can let their focus
extend beyond daily operations. This expanded scope of supervision leads to
higher engagement on behalf of leadership, which feeds back into a healthy work
environment in which they are happy to reward the stellar performance of their
employees. When employees feel their work is valued, the cycle begins anew.
This shared body of beliefs that the company claims to have
in the public eye should go all the way to the CEO and be directly reflected in
the day to day operations of the company. When leadership remains plugged in
and continues to expand the scope of their supervision, internal issues cannot
pervade within the workplace. In healthy work environments, the level of
improvement that can occur week to week will only serve the company’s larger
Employee apathy may seem innocuous enough, but the costs to time and resources can be a slow, devastating drain on a corporation. Many corporations and organizations have at least one employee who exhibits all the major signs of checking out in their daily capacity. Even if your corporation has bulletproofed human resource operations, employee burnout can still occur. That’s why it’s imperative for leadership and management to know and identify the signs of apathy on the part of an employee.
Signs of Employee Apathy
A repeated pattern of tardiness
Poor appearance and hygiene
Complaints about lack of money and/or repeated
attempts to borrow money
Exclusive precedence on their personal life
An excess of breaks
Appearance of being busy with nothing to show
Lack of accountability, making excuses
Irrelevant preoccupation with cell phones, smart
It stands to reason that if an employee is underperforming
at their job, leadership will cut the dead weight for the good of a
corporation. There are actually three umbrella categories that are often used
to justify retaining apathetic employees: Costs, Litigation, and Personal.
The first thing leadership will think of when they notice
an apathetic employee is dollar signs. Not only is the apathetic employee hemorrhaging
their money by wasting time and resources, but the cost to replace that
apathetic employee can also be an issue. Costs are incurred to the human
resources department to find, hire, and train a replacement. Employers might
hesitate to fire an apathetic employee because of unemployment insurance rates.
Another relevant factor specifically effects small businesses, in which the
workforce is not large enough to support turnover operations.
When it’s not a matter of money, it can often be a matter
of personal feelings or relationships concerning leadership and the apathetic
employee. A manager or owner might have a personal relationship with the
employee, and their bias prevents them from pulling the trigger on termination
procedures. Personal knowledge of that employee’s personal life and their
identity as a person (rather than an employee) can color their perceptions and
increase their latitude with the employee. Avoidance behavior can also play a
role. When this happens, leadership usually resigns itself to one of two end results:
Either the employee will improve on their own without intervention from
leadership, or they will leave on their own without termination proceedings.
The independent judgement of leadership may not be the
sticking point in terminating an apathetic employee. There are often legal factors
that a corporation or organization must consider. For instance, the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act (AEDA) protects employees from being
terminated based on their age. If an apathetic employee is of a certain age,
leadership may fear legal retaliation, citing age discrimination as the reason
for their termination. In higher education, an employee may have tenure as defined
by the institution, which would prevent leadership from terminating them.
Risks in Retention
Retaining apathetic employees for any of the reasons
listed above can have serious consequences for a company who is avoiding the
issue or trying to save money. Apathetic/underperforming employees cannot
provide a customer base with quality service, leading to dissatisfaction and
consumer complaints. This can negatively impact the corporation’s brand or
campaign, with a high risk of human error, loss of valued customers, and lost
reputation. Disgruntled employees could potentially say negative things about the
corporation on their social media accounts. Perhaps most concerning, apathetic
employees can easily spread their attitude throughout a work force, and harm long-term
goals for the corporation.
Corporate Culture Audits
One apathetic employee is enough of a drain on company time and resources, but if that attitude is contagious, you could have a larger problem on your hands. Unfortunately, when it comes to employee morale and performance, you don’t know what you don’t know. That’s why so many corporations and organizations are investing in quarterly or even biannual corporate culture audits. With a corporate culture audit, an independent, third party firm, like a private investigator or security company, conducts a full overview of company operations, structure, and environment in order to identify problems at their source for the health of the corporation. With a corporate culture audit, leadership will be able to identify factors that might be contributing to employee apathy.
We can provide your business with a solution to their corporate or internal crisis…
For businesses, a corporate crisis is not just a reality, it’s an eventuality. From workplace misconduct to theft and fraud, these corporate crises can leave a company devastated from financial or legal repercussions. Such a sweeping blow can leave executives and management bewildered and scratching their heads.
When corporate crises arise, Lauth Investigations International, Inc. is there with specialized intervention, investigation, and illumination for your internal conflict. Using authorized, secure information databases, innovative surveillance technology, Lauth Investigations International, Inc. brings a special brand of integrity and objectivity to every investigation for comprehensive solutions in a complex business world. Internal investigations receive a high degree of objectivity, as our only mission is to find the truth.
Companies, organizations, and non-profits alike have put their crises in the hands of Lauth Investigations. We can offer assistance in personnel, systemic, and contextual crises through a diverse list of investigation services. Our initiative and autonomy allow us to intervene at any stage in a corporate crisis. From risk assessment to litigation support, our firm’s findings have empowered corporate and non-profit entities to improve their operations and watch their business thrive.
Our team of qualified, seasoned professionals, composed of veterans, former law enforcement, paralegals, and researchers work with cooperative synergy to bring a comprehensive solution to every client’s internal investigation. This empathetic team prides itself in maintaining quality communications with our clients and remaining accessible in a time of crisis. In pursuit of providing our clients with accurate and thorough findings, we are always furthering our knowledge of the latest investigative methods in procedures by consulting a network of educated contemporary professionals and being well-versed in the latest research.
Don’t wait to hire a private investigator to resolve your corporate crisis. A private investigator can provide you with a comprehensive solution. For a free quote, or more information on our services, please call 317-951-1100.
Whether your company is entering a merger, considering an investment, or assessing a competitor’s advantage, due diligence is a necessary factor to ensure a successful outcome. Business leaders know the importance of growth but every opportunity presented holds the potential for success or failure.
Business intelligence consists of collecting and organizing large amounts of data that enable businesses to identify opportunities and develop strategies that promote long-term success. Hans Peter Luhn, a researcher for IBM, said in a 1958 IBM Journal article, “Business intelligence is the ability to apprehend the interrelationships of presented facts in such a way as to guide action toward a desired goal.”
Making better decisions based on business intelligence
Successful business leaders know the importance of information gathering and review before making any business decision. They draw information and knowledge from various professional disciplines including business consulting, law firms, journalists, and of course investigators.
For instance, when considering a merger with another company it is crucial to know as much about the company’s history, business management, ethics, financial solvency, possible undisclosed liabilities, leadership of the company, and their affiliations. All business transactions have potential risks and it important to assess these risks prior to entering any business transaction. The public information gathered can be quite revealing and prevent a decision that could devastate years of hard work, reputation, and even avoid litigation in the aftermath.
Another circumstance that could arise is that your company may want to know the demographics of your competitor’s clients. The information gathered would contain the number of products offered by the company, how many were products were purchased, how many were sold to men or women, the age brackets of those who purchased the products, the average income level, zip code, and level of education. Utilizing a combination of commercial due diligence and intensive analytical due diligence can forecast sales growth; identify a competitor’s operational metrics, procurement, customer management, and even fraud.
Benefits of internal business intelligence
While business intelligence can identify external opportunities and risks, internal business intelligence can be equally important. For instance, in the Human Resources Department of a company, the data collected on employee’s absences can be a predictive trend and therefore a strategy developed to combat income loss and retain employees. The same company may want to gauge how their latest marketing campaign is increasing sales in order to produce a trend analysis report and present the information in east to understand graphs and charts in PowerPoint at the next Board Meeting. The advantage of data analysis is endless when assessing performance measures of a business.
The risks of economic espionage
Corporations of all sizes face risks both internally and externally. Protecting trade and investment secrets has become increasingly difficult for large corporations entering the age of cyberspace. International corporations face increased loss and risk that ultimately affects the American economy.
In June 2000, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported Larry Ellison, Chief Executive of Oracle admitted to hiring a private detective agency to investigate groups that supported Microsoft. Oracle was trying to uncover ties to research groups that had been releasing studies supportive of Microsoft during an antitrust trial.
Claiming it was his “civic duty” to investigate Microsoft’s affiliations, it was uncovered, the investigative group hired by Oracle attempted to buy trash from two housekeepers at the Association for Competitive Technology.
In a June 28, 2012, statement before the House Committee on Homeland Security and Subcommittee on Counter-terrorism and Intelligence, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Counter Intelligence Division, estimated more than $13 billion losses to the American economy due to economic espionage.
Whether an insider employee is selling trade secrets, a competitor is attempting to infiltrate, or a company is the target of cyber-attacks, more and more companies, governments, and nonprofits face significant risks. Business intelligence when conducted legally and ethically can protect more than the bottom-line.
Private Investigators specialize in business intelligence
Professional investigative teams have private investigators that can verify information, collect information about financial transactions, assets, investments, liabilities, and identify existing contracts, business practices, and even political associations. The information is then provided to the client providing a solid base for decision-making.
Business intelligence involves research, measurement, querying, analytics, data mining, performance management, reporting, identifying benchmarks, information sharing, and regulatory compliance. To implement effective business intelligence strategy, it is important to have skilled investigators to help your company obtain the needed information while conducting a legal, ethical, and discreet investigation.
According to Thomas Lauth, owner and lead private investigator at Lauth Investigations International, business intelligence has become a necessary component of business management worldwide. “From a negative media campaign to competing for a contract, knowing who your opposition is and their political and media affiliations, marketing and internet campaigns, and even motives will give you the competitive edge” says Lauth. “The old saying, it is better to be safe than sorry, rings true.”
Kym L. Pasqualini
Social Media & Awareness Expert
Lauth Investigations International
201 N. Illinois Street, 16th Floor-South Tower
Indianapolis, IN 46254www.lauthinveststg.wpengine.com