Studies suggest that companies with a solid safety culture keep employees engaged and emotionally devoted to the company and its goals. Companies with positive safety cultures have improved workplace safety and health. This also improves workplace productivity and employee morale.
Distinguishing a company with a strong safety culture from one with a poor one is easy.
A company with a negative safety culture is one with safety initiatives that aren’t followed by employees which ultimately leads to higher injury and accident rates within the workplace.
Where, creating a strong safety culture can be challenging, once implemented, safety culture initiatives can benefit the company big time.
Companies with a strong safety culture have:
- High productivity levels.
- Improved employee engagement.
- Lower employee turnover.
- Reduced accident and injury rates.
A company with a strong safety culture is characterized by the following:
- Companies invest in safety programs and equipment.
- Leaders consider the importance of employee safety.
- Managers are committed to creating a better workplace.
- Employees feel motived and energized to take action.
- Employees feel ownership of safety initiatives and programs.
With that being said, let’s take a look at how to improve safety culture through employee engagement.
1. Let the Employees Understand Why It’s Important
At the end of the workday, employees need to return home safely. For this reason, they are the best people to understand why a safety culture is important not only in the workplace but also to the community.
Remember that when your employees feel that their safety and that of the people around them is enhanced, they will be more productive which translates to your company’s success.
2. Allow Employees to Give Feedback
Keep all the channels of communication open to allow employees to give feedback from the start. Encourage peer-to-peer feedback to promote growth and bonding among team members, and make them open for change. Make every employee understand what motivates the other and why. Encourage the employees at the top management to connect with the bottom management employees to boost communication.
3. Encourage and Involve Employees
Employees should not just have new policies dictated to them but they should also take part in the safety decision-making process. Put measures in place so that employees can make suggestions, take part in safety committees, and coach new employees. In simple terms, allow employees to positively contribute toward achieving a strong safety culture.
Employees should be trained specifically about your company’s policies and procedures that encourage engagement when it comes to workplace safety.
Please review our employee engagement 3-hour training workshop
Also, this includes training new and existing employees on equipment changes, work practices, and the adoption of new technology.
As a rule, there should be a feedback loop to allow the leaders to gauge how the employees are acknowledging the training.
Employees should be reminded that when it comes to creating a strong safety culture, they have a vital role to play and they are open to give feedback and provide suggestions for improvement.
5. Allow Employees to Take Ownership
You want your employees to welcome the idea and improve safety culture and therefore it’s important to designate them responsibilities in the process. This will not only demonstrate the trust you have to them but will also show them how your company values them. Let them know of any changes before they occur and allow them to get actively engaged in the process.
A good rule of thumb is to permit employees to implement and monitor safety programs by forming safety committees. Allow the safety committees formed to take the responsibilities of:
- Coming up with safe work practices.
- Taking leadership in safety training.
- Leading safety audits and conducting workplace inspections, etc.
6. Take Advantage of Technology
Technology has invaded every part of our lives and for good reasons. Utilize technology to support safety culture by enabling employees to send and receive information.
Mobile devices and applications can also become helpful when it comes to improving safety culture by enabling every employee to take part in safety programs.
For instance, employees working in the manufacturing industry can use their devices to observe and send reports about incidents, take pictures, inspect, and share feedback in real-time.
7. Start Doing and Let Them Come After You
Start doing everything deemed to improve a safety culture. Follow all safety policies to inspire employees to do the same. Employees will always follow what the management does. And this means that when you lead by example, employees will also follow suit.
8. Make Safety a Continuous Process Instead of a Regulatory Requirement
Of course, safety is a compliance requirement but if you want your employees to take part in ensuring safety culture is enhanced, you shouldn’t make it a compliance requirement but a continuous process of improvement.
Think about the improvement your company has done for the past 5 years relating to workplace safety. Figure out strategies and plans to improve the results in a specified period- you can say 3 to 5 years from now.
- Create a Company Vision for Safety
In this case, a company vision will enable every stakeholder to work toward achieving a strong safety culture. After all, it would be difficult to achieve safety goals where every company stakeholder isn’t working toward the same goal.
10. Make Employee Account for Every Breach of the Company Safety Culture
All employees must be held accountable for their individual and co-workers’ safety. This means that in case employees are working on a project, everyone should watch their safety and that of their co-workers.
11. Recognise Your Best Performers
Encourage employees to improve safety performance and watch for improvements then recognize them. Monitor your employees to catch those that are following safe work practices such as wearing their PPE and recognize them.
You don’t have to spend money to recognize employees who are observing safety work practices. A positive word or comment at the time you notice an employee following safe work practices can encourage them to continue with the same spirit.
12. Protect Employees
Lastly, employees need to feel protected to speak without fear of being punished or victimised. It would be difficult for employees to talk about a previously unnoticed safety threat knowing that he or she will be punished. This means the issue will be unresolved and might cause severe workplace injuries in the future. The employee may also fail to share it with a co-worker.
As management, you are responsible for protecting your employees.
When a company or the management demonstrates it values the importance of a strong safety culture, workers will be more than happy to take part in promoting it. When employees feel valued and trusted to participate in the process, their level of engagement goes up.
The company leadership of management must figure out how to keep employees engaged. Of importance, employees should feel free to take part and not feel like they are being forced to.
Creating a self-sustaining and strong safety culture isn’t as easy as people may think. It’s also not something to be achieved overnight.
It takes time, resources, and requires continuous communication. However, following the above tips, companies can create a sustainable safety culture that encourages employee engagement and constant improvement across your company.