- Make sure you have strong, clear policies on employment. Don't leave any room for confusion or interpretation. Communicate openly and comprehensively with your employees regarding your policies, and strictly enforce them. A great tool in this regard is an employee handbook. Do you have one? Is it up to date?
- Hire your employees carefully. Take time during the interview process to get to know them. Look for people with a strong work ethic, and avoid hiring someone you think might cause trouble. For tips on hiring employees check out this post.
- Stay within legal requirements when it comes to hiring employees. Discrimination or harassment in the workplace spell nothing but trouble for your small business. Treat all employees with respect and communicate with them regularly.
- Learn to keep your emotions in check. Avoid causing problems by facing situations calmly, refusing to respond harshly or retaliate when confronted with an issue.
- When informed of a mishap at work, conduct a thorough investigation before jumping to any conclusions or administering any discipline. Speak with all your employees to get a clear idea of what has actually occurred and then act upon that knowledge. "Fact based, data driven" is a good policy.
- Keep good records. While it may be a bit dull, detailed records are absolutely essential, especially in cases where disciplinary action needs to be taken. If you are faced with a lawsuit having a good record of the incident, as well as the custom of keeping good records, may be what saves your small business.
- Lastly, consider purchasing Employment Practices Liability Insurance (ELPI). This type of insurance covers your small business if any claims or lawsuits are made against it by your employees.
While protecting yourself from being sued isn't the most exciting thing you can be doing with your time, it is certainly a whole lot better than battling a lawsuit. Wouldn't you agree?