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How to promote employee engagement in a safety context

By Madison Hanscom, PhD

An engaged workforce has strong, positive effects on safety. Engaged employees are more willing to go the extra mile and take pride in their work, so it should be a goal for leaders to create an environment for engagement in order to promote a safer workplace. Consider the following when developing your plan to promote employee engagement in a safety context:

Help employees see the value in their work.

When you help employees to see how their work connects to the bigger picture, this creates meaning. It is important to show worker how their role and how safety connect to the system in which they work. Don’t forget to consider how this contributes to and impacts the system both inside (e.g., the organizational mission) and outside (e.g., the public) of the company.

Listen to employees.

Keep an open dialogue with employees about their experiences at work. Ask them what their wants and needs are and see if the work can be changed at all to enhance their safety engagement.

Give people as much autonomy as possible.

Employees thrive when they have control and task variety within their job. Research has shown that job autonomy – the freedom to choose goals, methods of completing tasks, and strategies to approach work – predicts engagement.

Conduct risk assessments.

In order to identify what might hurt engagement or lead to negative experiences like stress or burnout, conduct a risk assessment to isolate potentially damaging factors. This way your people feel heard and you can get ahead of these factors.

Encourage social support.

Employees that work in a team climate that supports and respects one another are more likely to be engaged. Build norms that foster support and teamwork instead of competition.

Recognize hard work and safe work.

Appropriate recognition and rewards are important for employee engagement. Recognition can be offered verbally, by offering more opportunities or development, and through team/public recognition. Look for behaviors related to engagement (pride in work, dedicated to work, energized to do the job) and reward this in addition to safe behaviors.

Build trust.

Trust is a component of engagement. Create trust between employees and management through emphasizing open communication, consistent practices, and equitable treatment among all employees.

Involve employees in safety.

Bring employees to the table while having safety meetings and safety conversations. It is also worthwhile to have a safety committee where employees can be involved in strengthening the safety culture.

At Propulo Consulting, we care about the health and wellbeing of all workers. We partner with you to help leadership build core competencies for exceptional safety engagement. Our team has the expertise to help your business build a safer and healthier culture. For more information on this topic, read about Safety & Safety Culture at Propulo.

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