It can be tempting to think that a high salary or great benefits is what helps you attract and keep safety workers engaged and happy in their roles. But research shows that is not necessary the case—rather, it’s about the entire employee experience—not just the idea of high salary. So if the overall employee experience is what we need to focus on, how do we do that as safety professionals? Keep reading to see 3 key steps you can take to create an exceptional employee safety experience.
1. Look at every stage a safety manager has with your company
An exceptional employee safety experience, by its very definition, extends across the journey any team member has with you. Remember that journey starts before any safety leader is hired. Look to plot out (or map) the entire experience: how someone is attracted, hired, onboarded, and how they progress through the organization over time. Don’t forget to include development stages and even include the exit process as part of this exercise. Questions you can ask as you map out this journey include:
- What are we doing today and this quarter to reach potential talent?
- What, if anything, are current workers doing to help attract top talent?
- What are strengths of our hiring program? What do we see as opportunities to change in our hiring program?
- Is our onboarding process as consistent as it could be? What do recent new hires say about their onboarding experience?
- What are we doing to get the pulse of employee engagement?
- What tools or investments are we making to drive engagement? What about employee involvement?
- What are the ways we encourage growth and development? How personal is this process?
- How are we delivering feedback—and could it be improved? Could it be delivered it a more timely manner?
- What assessments do we give when staff leaves the company? What’s our process for evaluating our exit experience?
- What are some of the top reasons we believe that our talent leaves our organization?
Come from a learning posture when it comes to finding out the answers to these questions; after all, it’s not about pointing out mistakes, it’s about how you improve the employee safety experience going forward.
2. Start looking at the safety leader in his/her entirety
As a manager, start being more intentional about helping to respect and value people in their entirety. The basis of looking at your safety leaders holistically has to start with hiring, though, or it will fall flat; you have to have people who buy-in to your company vision and core values as the foundation of this approach. Beyond that, one of the best ways to engage the whole person is to help them articulate short-term and long-term career and personal goals. (Depending on your company, you may not label them as “goals” but think of them as objectives or milestones someone wants to realize.) When you come alongside an employee and recognize their ambitions and the life stage they are in, they are much more likely to feel safe, accepted, and listened to. 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. The great part? If you are invested in each employee, you can come alongside them and create personalized plans to help provide them with the right resources, training, and development to achieve both their personal and professional goals. If you add accountability into the mix, you can have a real formula for systematically helping team members grow in many areas of their lives. That kind of holistic approach (as long as you can support shared accountability in the process) surely supports engaged, highly loyal employees.
3. Focus on trust as your foundation
Vulnerability-based trust is challenging to develop and build, but it is invaluable when it comes to the employee safety experience. After all, trust drives effective communication, growth and learning opportunities, commitment to work, shared accountability, and so many more factors we’d describe as a “positive safety culture.” Trust is what would make someone feel safe enough to report issues they witness, and where someone feels safe and supported in saying, “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. Take the time to focus on developing trust within your organization. There’s no way to prescribe how to build trust in your organization, but take time to focus on the following areas, to start:
Make sure your actions align with your words.
We’ve all worked for leaders who say one thing, and behave the opposite way, which is one of the quickest ways to erode trust. Keeping your word, keeping your commitments to others, and doing what you ask of others is one of the best ways to build trust. Make it a habit to align your words and actions.
“Give away” trust to others first.
Contrary to popular belief, an effective way to foster deep trust is to give away your trust to others first—before they necessarily “earn” (some of) your trust. When genuine, your safety leaders will recognize the trust you’ve afforded them, and it is likely they will reciprocate.
Being vulnerable and showing you’ve made mistakes is one way to show others that they, too, can open up without fear of retaliation.
Treat others like…well, humans.
Show people just how much you care about them—in all areas of their lives, not just at work. If you find yourself tempted to second guess a colleague or to wonder if someone is telling the truth or doing the right thing, pause and suspend judgement. Give your workers and colleagues the benefit of the doubt. Give them autonomy even if you aren’t sure they are deserving of it. When taking steps like these, your actions will show you’re coming from a place of deep care and compassion.
Ask for input and be open to what you hear.
Have you always had a certain type of safety meeting? Or do you hold a weekly safety meeting no matter what…even if you don’t necessarily have a pressing topic to cover? What if you asked your people for input on your next safety meeting? That’s just one example of how you can be open to new ideas, and how you can solicit input to gain trust. Don’t be afraid to challenge the “norms” in your culture to fight complacency or boredom, either.
iReportSource Helps You Improve the Employee Safety Experience
iReportSource is a mobile, web-based software application designed to make employee safety programs more efficient and effective. iReportSource takes the paperwork—and the headaches—out of reporting, collaboration and follow-up. No matter who the employee is, no matter their role or level in your organization, iReportSource is an efficient, intuitive way to help them manage and contribute to safety.