How do you engage more staff with your health and safety initiatives?
It’s an oft-asked question by safety leaders, and a long-standing barrier to better safety outcomes.
Addressing the issue starts by understanding the context in which you’re trying to engage people. Specifically - an environment where very few workers are engaged with their job at all.
The annual Gallup employee engagement survey reveals each year just how poorly engaged people are at work. In 2021, the percentage of US workers fully engaged in their job slumped to 34%, while those actively disengaged rose to 16%. The other 50% are somewhere in between.
So two thirds of your staff aren’t fully engaged in their job. That is a mighty hill to climb to get them engaged with safety. (Even when we know workers who are engaged with safety are seven times less likely to have a safety incident.)
You’ve probably heard a number of ‘tips and tricks’ over the years about how to drive more engagement. But one-offs don’t work, and the truth is a new app won’t fix all your issues. (Despite what other software providers might tell you!)
What we’ve learned through working with tens of thousands of workers around the world is that every workplace is different and there is no single silver bullet technology or process.
Instead what separates success and failure comes down to four foundational principles. Focusing on these principles in every decision and action in your safety programme is the best approach to improving engagement. Why? Because if you fail to hit any of these your chances of success will diminish significantly.
1. Workplace Trust
This is critical. If your workplace has low trust among employees then people won’t believe that you’ll follow through on safety plans, and they won’t believe you have good intentions when you seek to collect more safety data. Trust goes far beyond safety’s realm; but it’s vital. A big part of this is trust comes down to company leadership, and their relationship with your team. Doing your part to ensure trust exists, and to ensure senior leadership lead by example with safety will give you a head start on your hopes of improving safety engagement.
What is in it for me? Or in this case, what is in it for them? Have you truly considered what workers get from participating in safety processes? Of course you know it’s going to help lower their chances of being hurt - but they may not see it that way: “I’ve always done it this way, and I’ve never hurt myself...” The question is how can you connect proper safety procedures and engagement to something that matters to each employee? It could be tying it to their career progression and personal development, or for some it could relate to rewards or bonuses. Additionally, your safety programme should seek to feed back to workers. Find the appropriate carrot and offer it, and remember it may not be the same carrot for every worker.
3. Think like a marketer
To get cut through in people’s busy lives and workdays - you need to stand out. You need your message to be seen and heard. You also need to understand your audience first, to shape appropriate messages for them. This is all Marketing 101 - but you will have to prioritise it if you want to get relevant messages in the right places at the right time to drive engagement.
4. Keep it simple
You may have done all the work to create the right incentives and get attention for safety in an organisation with high trust - but it can all fail if you don’t make it easy for people to participate. This is where technology like SaferMe’s makes a big difference for businesses. We designed our safety tools focused on the end user - not for the safety manager sitting in an office - because we know engagement is so important to success. So make sure you set appropriate levels of language, and time and complexity levels within safety.
Read how Pryors Apparelmaster massively increased engagement by ditching their old safety software that was clunky and difficult to use, and replaced it with SaferMe’s simple and engaging app.
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