Health and safety training can be a challenging subject to make anyone excited about. Fortunately, there are several tactics safety professionals can use to keep staff excited about an ongoing program or to maintain employee engagement when introducing a new initiative.
Companies need to constantly reinforce and update their training protocol to promote a strong safety culture. But if it’s not done right, a great deal of what gets taught during safety training will be ignored or forgotten.
Start at the top
Safety attitudes begin at the managerial level and trickle down to on-the-ground employees. If those in charge treat health and safety training with minimal enthusiasm, it’s likely that their workers will do the same. The organization’s senior safety leader needs to research and observe where the company as a whole can make improvements—and they should begin by taking a hard look at the top of the chain of command.
In many cases, when company leaders have a lackluster attitude towards safety it’s because they don’t understand the strong business case for investing time and money in safety. If safety executives can educate their peers on how safety can improve a company’s stock prices or provide a boost to day-to-day production then they’ll be more likely to see more managers leading by example.
Bring in a professional
Hiring someone from the outside can take the pressure off the managerial team, offer a different look at safety issues, and also allow those who normally provide the training to participate in it themselves. Many health and safety consultants have a knack for being natural motivators, bringing a new unique style of instruction into the room.
Some keep their audience engaged through stories, through safety-related humor, or interactive role-play. One of the biggest benefits of an external trainer, however, is that their presence will fight employee complacency by offering a new perspective and a new person with whom to connect.
Put employees in a position of influence
Some of the most effective types of training are the kinds employees choose for themselves. It is difficult for an employer who doesn’t socialize with staff or who isn’t on the floor every day to truly understand the needs of their employees, and it can be valuable to solicit employee input on safety training.
Listening to workers’ concerns and ideas could take many forms: a suggestion box, discussion sessions after toolbox talks, a monthly safety meeting, and other ways of gathering feedback. This will generate many ideas and will make employees feel that their opinions are valued. But this will only work if their suggestions are really listened to and acted upon. A suggestions box that gathers dust and is rarely looked at defeats the purpose, and can even be counterproductive.
Putting employees in a position of influence makes a deep impact. It fosters positive attitudes and builds strong morale. If employees feel that they’re making small but meaningful contributions to safety, they are more likely to commit to a broader workplace safety program.
Introducing organizational change takes time and effort, but health and safety training doesn’t have to be dull or repetitive. By tailoring each safety training program to the needs of the organization and by choosing a method of delivery that will inspire and engage, employees will feel empowered and motivated to improve themselves and their workplace.