Employee Engagement in Safety

How workers show up each day directly shapes your culture. To be an engaged, safe, productive culture, we want our people highly involved and deeply committed to the company mission. No doubt that today, many organizations are seeking to create and sustain this kind of engaged company culture. That’s why we’re taking a closer look at just a few of the top ways we can ensure that the systems, the processes, the values, and the norms of your organization all help to improve the employee experience.

Let’s talk about a few strategies you can embed in your culture so you can improve employee engagement.

Make accountability a high priority

A positive safety culture is one where someone feels safe enough to say to a colleague, “I noticed that you’re not wearing your safety glasses.” In turn, we want that colleague to respect the other person enough to respond positively and change their behavior. The values of the team, in such organizations, reinforce constructive accountability.

Workers look out for one another, and they can communicate with one another in a positive way that upholds the values of the company. That might be safety, or it might be something else like an approach towards customer service.

Individual and team accountability also help work against over-confidence or complacency that can happen over time, despite how “engaged” a worker is. Accountability is communication, trust, ownership. In my next episode, I will go over five ways to promote accountability. But for now, know that accountability is a critical factor in driving engagement.

Give workers the right amount of authority

If you want to drive accountability, you also must match that with authority. Authority, paired with trust, is what gives workers a sense of empowerment and true ownership in a role or project.

If and when authority is missing, workers can easily get disengaged because they don’t feel like they can genuinely impact the desired outcome. Just think: if you ask a high performer to complete a project, but they lack the resources (time, talent, equipment, etc.), that’s a real disconnect. That’s precisely the kind of scenario that can result in a high degree of stress.

To support giving your employees a real sense of authority, make sure:

  • The authority given aligns with the outcomes you want to see
  • You show you trust workers with that responsibility and authority
  • Workers know what is expected of them, given their role and responsibilities
  • Workers have the resources, tools, equipment to do the work the right way

Get workers as involved as possible

Provide ample opportunity and space for workers to be as involved as possible at work, in safety-related efforts, and in other areas, as well.

Make sure you have a structure that can allow them to give suggestions and feedback as to how safety can be improved. It’s essential to not only provide the opportunity for ideas but demonstrate that action will be taken to address those suggestions, too. That way, people feel empowered and have a greater sense of ownership. Plus, workers will feel like they have a stake in the outcome and in shaping the environment at work.

Look at the employee experience from end to end

Can you confidently say that the organization is showing it holistically cares for employees throughout the entire experience they have with you? That experience starts even before starting their job!

Start thinking of the “employee experience” in terms of every interaction a worker has with your organization. That means from recruitment (or even before that) until the day they exit the company.

To name a few, that can include:

  • The recruitment process
  • The hiring process
  • The onboarding process
  • The work environment(s)
  • The work processes
  • The career path or learning opportunities provided
  • The ongoing communication (informal and formal) provided
  • Coaching sessions or mentoring sessions that are a part of the job, whether formal or informal.
  • The ways input and feedback are collected and acted upon
  • Incentives/compensation
  • The opportunity for training and ongoing education
  • Employee recognition program
  • Exit surveys and exit process in general

The list goes on and on. The point is that the employee experience starts when they first interact with your organization and continues until they potentially leave the company.

Rather than merely a buzzword (experience), you want to do your best to foster trust in each of these stages. That way, workers deeply care about their role and their impact on the company, no matter where they are in the “experience.”

Don’t be afraid to challenge the way you do things

Do you have the same old safety meeting format? Do you hold a regular safety meeting, even if you don’t necessarily have a pressing topic to cover?

Be open to challenging the “norms” in your culture to fight complacency and boredom. Being open to changing things when needed, can boost creativity and engagement.

Create an environment where you can measure attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors

So much of work is about discretionary effort, and so you want to be sure your company is measuring and monitoring levels of engagement in some way. That way, you can be aware of a problem or issue when it arises.

The reality is that if employees don’t feel safe, accepted, or listened to, they probably aren’t as engaged with their work. In other words, if people don’t feel like they can be themselves at work, then they don’t feel comfortable, which takes away from their ability to do their job optimally.

Recognize and reward the right values and practices

Companies with safe, productive, and engaged cultures look for opportunities to make the right behaviors as visible as possible, which serves to model and reinforce these behaviors in employees.

Focus on intentional positive reinforcement, appreciation, and praise. Every company is different, so build a recognition program or process that works for your organization. Not only does that keep workers feeling appreciated, but it can show you support your company values.

Invest in Learning and Development

Does your organization support informal and formal mentoring? What about coaching? When was the last time you had a conversation with someone about their progress?

A critical component of short-term and long-term engagement is developing your leaders in a variety of ways. That includes training, leadership development, coaching and mentoring, skill development, and helping to forge a path for career growth and advancement.

Don’t neglect to invest in your employees since it’s a powerful tool to help them advance their skills and to keep them engaged and satisfied in their work.

Gallup article used with permission. Read the Gallup article here

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