Health & Safety: What’s in it for me?
It's proven that better health & safety brings better employee engagement which in turn increases productivity, reduces costs and boosts employee retention.
Improve engagement in your health & safety practices
Organisations often struggle to achieve engagement in health & safety and this may require a change in culture. So how do you position health & safety so it resonates with employees, contractors and leaders in your organisation? This article explores how to bring your workforce onboard to drive this through.
With any proposed change the natural human reaction is to ask “What’s in it for me?” If you can address this critical question with your workforce you will make good progress.
First consider how you communicate about health & safety. It is a serious subject and requires clear, instructional communications. Everyone needs to understand what your health & safety policies and practices are, the role they play and their duty of care. They need to appreciate what compliance looks like and what will happen if they do not comply. However, communications need to be more than just compliance. An authoritative tone may alienate people. Consider how you can make your communications more personal, more emotive to resonate with people.
Think about how often you discuss health & safety. If it’s infrequent or not enough relative to the health & safety risks your workers are exposed to, then up the ante. It should be a frequent topic of conversation at all levels, a permanent feature on leadership agendas, through to daily reminders to workers exposed to risk. Adopt a mantra, for example the 1980s TV show Hill Street Blues “Let’s be careful out there” might help you develop one relevant to your organisation.
Second look at how you can encourage a culture of personal responsibility. Engender a positive approach with an “If you see it you own it” attitude. This has to be embraced by leaders and management to work. Health & safety will then become second nature to your team; integral to your systems and seen in your everyday practices.
Workplace health and safety is all about sensibly managing risks to protect your workers and your business. Good health and safety management is characterised by strong leadership involving your managers, workers, suppliers, contractors and customers. In a global context, health and safety is also an essential part of the movement towards sustainable development.
Be critical of your health & safety policies and practices
Examine your health & safety policies and procedures in detail. Are you encouraging a reactive or proactive attitude to health & safety? Establish where your organisation currently sits on this spectrum and identify small steps of improvement that your workers can implement. For example:
- Ensure all near misses and incidents are reported and fully addressed.
- Then initiate hazard reporting, raising awareness across the business of existing hazards.
- Next discuss how to mitigate incidents and develop best practice.
- Review your health & safety documentation, ensuring it is simple and accessible to all is critical.
What are the benefits of this approach?
An interesting article by IOSH highlights the impact that improving health & safety can have on your organisation including:
- Research shows that workers are more productive in workplaces that are committed to health and safety.
- Increasingly, customers want to buy products and services that are produced ethically.
- Job hunters – particularly Millennials and Generation Z – seek roles with employers who share their values. Your positive health & safety approach will help you to attract and retain the best employees.