Employees know the inner workings of their department, and they are often aware of liability risks that management may have overlooked.
This type of risk assessment is typically best handled by someone outside the actual department who can bring a more objective viewpoint. But it doesn’t require a skilled risk manager.
It could even be done in a collaborative manner with members of other departments.
Policy and procedure review
We’ve written before about the importance of policies and procedures. Policies and procedures guide internal operations and help ensure that every employee knows the rules and expectations.
Policies and procedures should be living, changing documents. Outdated policies and procedures can increase risks since they may not address current regulations or current technology.
Local governments need to systematically review policy manuals to make sure that they are up-to-date and accurately reflect current practices and priorities.
These reviews should involve representatives from different departments as subject matter experts.
As we wrote in our post about How to Manage Your Local Government Handbook, government agencies should review policies and procedures at least annually, if not more often.
Keeping policies and procedures up to date is an essential part of risk mitigation. Written policies decrease liability by showing the steps a government agency took to follow laws and implement safe practices.
Have employees sign policies
It’s not enough simply to have policies in place. Local governments must make sure that employees read and understand policies.
Collecting employee signatures can help limit a government’s liability if an employee violates policy.
Having a record that proves that an employee saw and affirmed the policy shows that the government agency is not at fault for the employee’s misconduct.
Employee training and regular retraining
Regular training can also help local governments limit liability risks.
Training helps employees see how to apply policies and procedures to their day-to-day work. It helps employees know how to do their specific jobs, but it also shows them how to implement higher-level policies to their day-to-day behavior.
Training shouldn’t just happen during the onboarding process.
Government agencies should conduct regular retraining in high-liability areas such as sexual harassment and discrimination. Reminding employees of laws and expectations can help prevent incidents.
Keeping up-to-date training records can also help local governments limit liability. Training records show that government agencies did their due diligence in communicating expectations for lawful behavior.
An online training management tool can help governments easily keep accurate records. It can also save time, money, and make sure training content aligns with the most up-to-date policies.
Local governments can’t afford to wait until an incident occurs to create a plan to address it.
Risk mitigation strategies can save governments millions of dollars a year in lawsuits. Risk reduction can also help governments operate more efficiently, maintain public trust, and swiftly address any crises that do arise.