Employers know the benefits that accrue when employees embrace safety and live it every day. But what’s in it for the employees? Plenty, according to safety consultant Kevin Burns. Keep reading for a list of benefits to employees who buy in to safety and tips on providing the right tools to drive employee engagement.
Among the many potential benefits, employee engagement with safety can allow an employee to:
•Help the business maintain high production numbers because a safety incident can crash production and performance numbers.
•Become a person of influence. Every team has an influencer, and exercising the right to choose safety shows others that an employee has the strength to make good choices.
•Set him- or herself up for promotion. People who embrace corporate values like safety are more likely to be promoted, which means more money and more influence.
•Earn positive recognition. Bonuses, awards, and commendations go to good performers, not to “safety cowboys, whiners, and complainers.”
•Reduce friction and drama. By buying into safety, employees remove the impetus for their boss to chastise and scold.
•Improve job security. When times are hard, companies face the difficult choice of deciding whom to keep and whom to lay off. Burns advises, “Don’t make it easy for your employee to choose you for the layoff.” Improve job security by being a top performer who demonstrates strong safety values.
•Maintain a positive cash flow. Regardless of insurance coverage, being out of work can be costly. Working safely helps ensure that an employee is not saddled with injury-related expenses.
If you want them to own it, give them the tools
Creating an environment where employees feel a sense of ownership for safety requires providing programs, tools, and opportunities. If you have at least several of the following National Safety Council recommendations for engagement in place, you’re well on your way.
•Safety suggestions. Creating an anonymous space—or an online form—for employees to request change will help give them a voice and relieve them of whistleblower fears in speaking up.
•Forums. Bringing together employees from different departments and/or locations to discuss safety topics can give them a fresh perspective on their workplace while also creating a stronger sense of community across your organization.
•Surveys. To gauge where employees stand on an issue, consider implementing a short multiple-choice survey to benchmark perception. You can also include a brief comment area to capture any related thoughts that were not part of the survey. Employees appreciate it when their views are sought out and valued.
•Stand-down. A stand-down is a work shutdown that can (1) demonstrate how seriously your company takes safety; (2) teach employees how to address hazards and incidents; and (3) contribute to a dialogue with your employees about safety that promotes engagement.
•Drills. While drills are a key element in compliance, they also demonstrate the value of employees working as a team.
•Safety projects. Getting employees involved in safety initiatives can benefit the organization as well as the individual. Encourage team members to come up with something personally significant to them—like checking tire pressure as employees arrive at work, or making sure everyone is wearing the proper personal protective equipment (PPE). Be sure to recognize employees for their contributions.