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The Correlation Between Workplace Morale, Productivity, and Safety

Three construction workers in hardhats and safety vests

This is a guest post by Jori Hamilton.

Keeping your workplace safe and efficient is an ongoing challenge. It may feel like a losing battle some days, but the reality is that a safer work environment is also more productive. Workers feel better about what they do, and morale improves as well.

Productivity and high morale are worth their weight in gold, especially due to their positive impact on a company’s bottom line. How can you boost company results through a safety program? Here’s what you need to know.

Better safety reduces absenteeism

One of the impacts of injuries—even minor ones—is missed work. An employee may miss a few hours to see a medical professional or miss a day or more if they have to heal before returning to work.

When you have an effective safety program, you reduce injuries and absences. You also have fewer people using paid time off for nonmedical reasons when morale is higher.

As you reduce absences, you’ll increase safety. This virtuous cycle happens because understaffed workplaces are much more likely to have accidents. People are trying to do more than their own work and often hurry or cut corners—and when that happens, the risk of injuries increases. 

Overworked employees, temporary staff without sufficient training, and low morale all lead to more accidents and injuries. Four different types of preventable accidents contribute to 58.6% of construction worker deaths. Reducing the number of these incidents not only leads to better safety at work, it improves attendance, which in turn allows you to avoid these hazards, another virtuous circle of workplace safety.

A strong safety culture improves productivity

A study by Lockheed Martin found that when they developed a stronger safety culture, productivity went up 24%. Factory costs also went down. 

Why? Employees focused on reducing errors that lead to accidents. This not only helped everyone stay healthy, but it also reduced downtime and improved overall effectiveness. Lockheed found that extensive training, pre-shift preparation, and safety audits all improved employee confidence and improved their ability to do their job.

Better productivity and lower costs lead to increased profits connecting your safety program to the bottom line.

A focus on safety results in more engaged employees

Employee engagement can feel like the Holy Grail—extremely desirable and impossible to find. However, studies have shown that safety improves employee morale and engagement.

An unengaged employee doesn’t care about the results they get. As long as the individual is not in immediate danger, they are more likely to take shortcuts or put in minimal effort. On the other hand, a team focused on safety is aware of the impact of their actions. They know their work matters and make an effort to do things right.

Worker engagement comes from an emotional commitment to the company and its goals. When safety is the center of workplace culture, employees feel like they matter and their work makes a difference.

You can also boost engagement by instilling your employees with a sense of ownership over their work processes and involving staff in setting up and running the safety program. When you take these steps, you’ll have an empowered workforce committed to doing things right.

Don’t forget about remote work safety

If you have remote employees, you might think that their work safety isn’t a priority. After all, most of these staffers are office workers in charge of setting up their own environments.

However, remote workers need safety protocols as well. As a company, you are responsible for providing proper equipment and giving employees guidance about how to use it. Setting up your remote teams for success will help improve morale and productivity for these workers as well.

Provide information to remote workers about how to stay safe and healthy. This can include tips on getting regular physical activity, avoiding repetitive-stress injuries, and more.

With this advice, your remote team members can work safely and effectively, reduce absences, and boost efficiency.

Help your team help each other

There’s no way a manager or leader can be everywhere at once. In the end, it’s up to employees to help each other stay safe. This means you need to encourage responsibility and ownership, not just rule-following.

Many workers overestimate their ability to stay safe. They see themselves as highly competent and unlikely to make a mistake. While confidence is a good thing, it’s not helpful when it causes employees to ignore safety steps.

In your safety training, focus not only on personal safety but also  how everyone’s actions impact the safety of others. One study showed that when reminded that washing hands protected patients, doctors and nurses washed their hands more regularly than when they were told handwashing protected them from illness.

Good safety is good for business

As you can see, a strong safety culture is directly linked to several positive business results. You’ll see decreased absenteeism, increased productivity, and better engagement. All of these lead to better bottom-line results for your company.

If you have trouble getting buy-in for a safety program, you can use these tips to help get support from management and create an effective program that empowers employees and reminds them to watch out for each other.

Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of topics but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to workplace safety, employee training, and business productivity. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter: @HamiltonJori

On-demand webinar

An Expert Look at Employee Engagement and Safety

Without employee engagement, even compliance can be hard to achieve. This webinar, with insight from experts, was created to help busy professionals find the right approach to increase engagement in safety. The accompanying resources aim to help you apply this new knowledge and continue learning about the subject.

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