Thought Leadership

The human factor. Thoughts and observations.

The life-blood of any organisation is its people; the success of every system, in every organisation is determined by human factors. We are seeking a deep understanding of these human factors; these are some of our thoughts and observations.

Bucking the Trend:

Bucking the Trend:

Furey Smyth Retail Group partners with SeaChange to grow Safety Culture and Reduce Insurance Costs

Despite the rising costs of insurance for high-footfall commercial business, some organisations are bucking the trend and have experienced insurance premium reductions. How is this possible, you may ask? Every week there is a new story in the media highlighting the problem of rising insurance costs, the challenging claims culture in Ireland and the unfair variability in judgements and pay-outs when a claim does go to court. So what is high-footfall business to do?

The Furey Smyth Group took a proactive approach and focused on the safety risks and hazards within their control in their retail business. They partnered with SeaChange in 2015 with the goal to improve their group’s safety culture, reduce the likelihood of accidents and claims, and manage their rising insurance costs.

“I knew I had to be proactive in managing risk throughout our retail group. Safety is often treated as a box-ticking exercise and we weren’t happy with that – we wanted to go further and bring safety to life in our business so that our people felt accountable for their own safety and the safety of our customers. We engaged with SeaChange, the experts in behaviour-based safety solutions, and the rest is history” Chris Furey, Owner Director, Furey Smyth Group

The Furey Smyth Group comprises 7 Eurospar sites that serve loyal customers nationwide. The Furey Smyth Group pride themselves on customer service, operational best practice and providing a best-in-class retail experience serving communities across Ireland.   

“We always strive to be the best at what we do. We embrace innovation and technology when it fits with our brand to offer our loyal customers high-quality fresh food and facilities, friendly and helpful staff and an excellent customer experience” Chris Furey, Owner Director, Furey Smyth Group

One aspect of their best-in-class approach is ensuring that every Eurospar within the Furey Smyth Group is a safe place to work and shop. In 2015 Chris knew he had to do something about insurance costs which had spiralled out of control and which were on an unsustainable upward trend. He realised that he had to separate his business from the herd in terms of how the group managed risk from an operational and safety perspective. The challenge was knowing HOW this could be done. Most high-footfall businesses (and their insurance partners) have little awareness of how to manage risk in a way that creates and sustains a positive safety culture. The majority are happy to ‘tick the compliance box’ but doing this alone will not increase safety awareness for staff and customers, nor will it actively reduce the likelihood of accidents and claims, or support claims defense. It certainly won’t help manage rising insurance costs.

SeaChange, an Irish-based company, specialise in providing behaviour-based risk management systems in partnership with clients that span multiple sectors including retail.

“We know that 80-95% of accidents are behaviour-based and to manage risk effectively and sustainably it is critical to impact behaviour. Ticking the compliance box is never enough when it comes to something as fundamental as safety, and certainly in today’s business environment where Ireland has the highest claim culture in Europe, it is critical that organisations protect themselves by investing in their people and processes, and by creating safe habits” Dr. Paul Cummins, Managing Director, SeaChange Ltd.

SeaChange provide visual, interactive and practical systems that bring safety best practice to life. A key aspect of the SeaChange approach is their client portal which enables client sites to track their progress, log proactive safety KPIs, trend near misses and update their safety compliance.  SeaChange don’t just provide a system and walk away; they support clients towards improved performance and audit them annually to measure safety culture progress. They also provide key reports and recommendations to help clients manage their rising insurance costs.

Many of the top insurance companies recognise the best-practice approach that SeaChange takes because it gets tangible results: average before and after client results following full implementation of the SeaChange system include a 50% reduction in accidents, 42% reduction in claim frequency and a 40% reduction in claim costs. Insurers also value how SeaChange respond to market requirements with innovative solutions in order to improve client risk profile.

Since 2015 Chris and his management team have implemented 2 SeaChange Solutions across their group: the Risk Management System and the CAYGO® Digital Slip, Trip and Fall Management System. The Risk Management System was put in place first, and Chris and team invested time to ensure it was implemented effectively on each site. Once this system was firmly established throughout the group, Chris introduced the CAYGO® Digital Solution to automatically track, address and log slip, trip and fall hazards across the 7 sites. The Furey Smyth Group effectively took control of the risks and hazards that they could impact in a hands-on manner, and they did this by using the innovative SeaChange approach.

SeaChange systems are best in class, but like any great system, you get out of it what you put into it” Chris Furey, Owner Director, Furey Smyth Group

The effort invested by the Furey Smyth Group gained a significant return. The group has reduced their accident and claim rates by over 75% since partnering with SeaChange, and as a result while most retailers are experiencing increases in their insurance premiums the Furey Smyth Group has made considerable savings on their premium in each of the last 2 years. The group has also successfully defended liability claims as a result of their proactive use of the visual SeaChange system which provides proof of key safety training and local knowledge transfer on a routine basis.

“We are delighted that we were able to effectively improve our safety culture through SeaChange and as a result defend ourselves where appropriate and reduce our insurance costs so that we can continue to re-invest in other areas of our business” Chris Furey, Owner Director, Furey Smyth Group

From a cost perspective, being safe can save retailers money. The direct and indirect costs of a workplace accident vary across the sector but are always high-impact as they include lost time, lost productivity, cost of investigation and reconciliation process, cost of staff retraining, impact on claims culture, insurance premium increases, legal costs, lost morale, reputation loss, and so on.

More importantly than cost, being safe is core to any business that actively involves people, as outlined by Dr. Paul Cummins, Managing Director, SeaChange:

“Organisations that prioritise proactive safety culture as a primary business pillar consistently report increased staff morale, decreased absenteeism and increased productivity and quality in comparison to organisations who don’t invest in their safety culture. The most important resource any organisation has are its people, and proactive safety systems connect with both staff and customers alike to motivate safety behaviour based on autonomy rather than a compliance-based obligation than seldom makes a tangible difference”.

It is a legal requirement for business owners to have a safety management system that reflects current reality, e.g. risk assessments, safety statement, staff training. Given this fact, Dr. Paul Cummins contends that instead of just ticking the box, a business benefits much more by going the extra mile and investing in a solution that actually makes a tangible cultural difference and helps the business save money over the long term. Given existing challenges for high-footfall business with our high claims culture, grey legal system and rising insurance costs, doing business in Ireland will be an uphill battle for the foreseeable future. However, there is a large percentage of accidents and consequential claims that are absolutely avoidable. The fact that 80-95% of all accidents are behaviour-based means that connecting with people and tapping into their common sense can bring about immediate improvements. Employers need to know how to achieve this, and SeaChange have the experience, expertise and innovative solutions to help.

The Furey Smyth Group have set themselves apart from the herd by investing in safety culture systems that target the main risk factors in high-footfall sectors through a partnership with SeaChange. The group are always focused on continuous improvement from an operations perspective and adopt innovative solutions that lead to real change. Safety culture is a continuous journey that requires attention to remain sustainable, but the Furey Smyth Group are leading the way in the retail space and are reaping the rewards as a result in terms of increased staff awareness, increased defensibility, reduced accidents and significantly reduced insurance premium rates.


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