Your employees have more than 60,000 thoughts per day and most aren’t directly related to the task at hand.
Only 8 percent of an employees’ brain power goes toward what they are working on. (Source.)
Many distractions get in the way: personal life, other things on their task list, boredom, stress, an upcoming meeting, social media, and even day dreaming. Those factors all can contribute to complacency in the workplace, which can lead to injury and accidents. But can you imagine what would happen if you were able to increase the amount of discretionary thinking and the amount of focus that was going towards your business?
Not only would you likely improve safety, but also employee engagement, or just how connected and committed an employee is to your organization.
Safe Workplaces → Greater Employee Engagement → Safe Workplaces
If employees don’t feel safe or that they can be themselves at work, it takes away from their ability to do their job optimally. “If these employees are overly concerned about potential emotional, mental and/or physical threats, it reduces the level of discretionary effort (or engagement) they can attribute to their job,” says Chris Powell, CEO of Talmetrix, a company that captures and delivers real-time employee feedback and data-driven insights to measure engagement.
“But when employees feel like they belong (fit) within an organization and are empowered to perform and/or execute their role, they take more of active role in supporting and contributing to the workplace in terms of safety, productivity, and the overall culture,” adds Powell, who has had more than 20 years of experience on the front lines of HR, at companies including Scripps Networks Interactive, ING (VOYA), Marriott and Deloitte.
Powell suggests involving employees, and at the very least, proactively communicating with employees, when shaping your workplace safety programs. It’s not always possible, but when it is, the impact is great, he says: “Companies that proactively engage the employee base to shape and inform workplace safety programs, policies and processes tend to see higher levels of engagement and compliance resulting in fewer safety and/or risks issues.”
Provide Room for Input & Feedback
Powell sees companies successfully involve employees by providing ample opportunity for them to provide suggestions and feedback as to how safety can be improved. It’s important to not only provide the opportunity for suggestions but demonstrate that action will be taken to address those suggestions.
“Companies can involve employees in safety investigations to provide them a broader picture of the risks and steps to mitigate safety concerns within a company,” says Powell.
Employers can start by identifying new or expanded opportunities to bring a higher level of transparency to their safety programs. Look for opportunities to improve how you communicate about safety and how you train for safety, too.
“Safety is a Basic Need”
Engagement is a driver of performance and factors closely tied to the bottom line. Productivity, customer satisfaction, profitability, turnover, absenteeism, and even quality are other factors positively impacted by employee engagement.
Employee engagement has a complimentary impact in the workplace: engagement translates to better quality of life and health for employees and customers, just as it cuts down on the number of employee safety incidents.
Likewise, you can’t have engaged employees if you don’t have a safe work environment. On Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, safety is a basic need. If you adapt the hierarchy in regard to the workplace, engagement is a result of fulfilling psychological needs.
Attack Complacency in Your Workplace
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