You have solid planning and procedures. Does that mean your safety culture change efforts will be successful?
By Madison Hanscom and Brie DeLisi
When it comes to occupational safety, planning and procedures are incredibly important. They may be a legal requirement in some respects, and they also provide a guideline for the workforce to be aligned on mission, goals, and activities.
When taking on a culture change approach for achieving better workplace safety, planning and procedures will be a critical component. Planning will help to bring implementation strategies for improving safety performance to life. It can also help to identity key priorities. Procedures will provide guidance and direction for everyday functioning along the way. However, this is not enough to carry the whole change process, it is only a part of the puzzle.
While planning and procedures might be rock solid, this is not enough to build a strong safety climate. People must support them, stand behind them, and feel motivated to use them. Many companies try to improve safety solely by focusing on the process — but they do not give enough attention to the person component of change, which will impact their ability to achieve the desired future state. In order to achieve great change, organizations must also focus on employee attitudes and beliefs.
Consider the following to take a more holistic safety culture change approach that includes employees:
• Rely on employees for their expertise. Workers are experts on their job. They want to feel heard and their input will be valuable at all stages of the change process. Additionally, by including employees in the process, they will be more likely to buy in to the overall plan and promote it with their peers.
• Keep a pulse on fairness perceptions. If employees sense injustice in a change process, you will be met with resistance. Consider how employees will feel and how they are treated throughout the process.
• Provide clear communications. Employees are less likely to support an initiative if they don’t understand it. Communications should include a thorough explanation for why decisions are made, how it fits in with the overall goal or mission, and what will be expected of each individual.
• Solicit and respond to feedback. Would you want to know if your plans are flawed? Ask employees to help you identify gaps and areas for improvement. A critical aspect of this is to always follow up with employees when they provide feedback, so they know they were heard.
• Actively care. When employees perceive that their leadership is motivated by genuine concern and respect for employee wellbeing, employee commitment to change will be stronger than if employees feel that these changes simply are compliance-based or financially driven (e.g., to meet governing legislation or reduce workers compensation costs).
At Propulo Consulting, we care about the health and wellbeing of all workers. We partner with you to improve the world of work by creating culture change solutions. Our team has the expertise to help your business build a safer and healthier culture.