True organizational commitment to safety is not easy to achieve. And if you don’t effectively engage employees, even compliance can be hard to get. Most safety professionals understand the importance of employee engagement, but the issue is so complex that sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.
Fortunately, there’s an interesting webinar called An Expert Panel on Employee Engagement and Safety that answers many common questions about this subject by presenting relevant research and insight from engagement experts Scott Mautz, Dr. Paul Marciano and Kevin Kruse.
In particular, the webinar outlines five main factors that need to be addressed by any organization hoping to start or continue on their path to better engagement. One of these factors is leadership.
The importance of leadership cannot be ignored by companies that want to improve engagement in safety, because executives and frontline managers can make or break an engagement initiative based on their level of support and whether or not they possess certain skills.
As the webinar notes:
“Not all leaders are engaging, motivating or inspiring. It doesn’t always come naturally to people in leadership positions. So if you want to ensure improved engagement, developing and training managers is a good place to start.
It’s not uncommon to see managers promoted for their tenure with the company or for being really good at a specific job. But that doesn’t necessarily make them leadership material and often because of that the old adage, ‘People don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses,’ rings true.”
Leaders can be a big driver of engagement. They lead by example and promote the right culture. And they are also the ones who, through lack of leadership skills, can completely derail an initiative. But with training, they can help transform any organization and its people.
Another important aspect of engagement is workplace culture—the unspoken values held by the employees in the organization. These values can be positive or negative, and they depend heavily on the type of leadership employed by the company. For example:
“Imagine a culture where workers are not recognized for their contribution or putting in extra effort. A culture where workers are not praised for going the extra mile but are immediately chastised for doing something wrong is not one of engagement. Workers will very quickly only do the bare minimum, stop showing any initiative and, likely, only follow safety protocols when they know they’re being watched.”
A good workplace safety culture can inspire employees to take an active role in their own safety and in the safety of others. It is a welcoming environment for safety initiatives and it inspires new employees to carry the torch. A good culture will push and recognize workers for going above and beyond and make safety a value shared by all.
Conversely, a culture that’s lacking can demotivate people. It can also instill in new employees skewed values and perceptions that they might carry with them for years.
Leadership and culture are only two of the steps needed to achieve engagement in safety. To learn about the other steps and hear from experts on engagement, watch this 40-minute webinar.
It’s available on-demand and it comes with three downloadable resources for leaders and executives. These resources provide even more relevant information on engagement and they will help you apply this new knowledge in the workplace.