Safety improves when engagement improves. Engagement improves when supervisors and safety people make it a point to value the people that they work with.
An untrained or under-skilled supervisor or safety person tends to get the basics done. Nothing more. Get production. Stay within the safety rules. Everybody goes home safe (fingers crossed). Job done. Except, the job is not done. In fact, it could be argued that job is systematically being undone. If you’re focused on just getting it done, you may be missing the biggest part of the safety picture.
Gallup reports that the not-actively-engaged rate of employees hovers at seventy percent. Seven out of ten employees are not connected to their work. Without a connection to the work, there is no connection to safely doing the work.
Money doesn’t fix engagement. Supervisors and safety people do.
A 2014 TINYpulse survey revealed the top ten list of things employees want from their work. Number 7 was money. There are six things that are more important to employees at work than money. Give employees these 6 things and you begin to change the corporate culture? Once you begin to shift the corporate culture, safety culture shifts with it. Supervisors and safety people have a great deal of control over both.
Here is the list of six things that employees want more than money and what it means to safety:
1Peer motivation. The most important thing to employees is fitting in. Acceptance is a motivator. Supervisors and safety people need to give employees opportunities to motivate their fellow workers. Crew culture is important. If the crew is focused on safety, each employee will be focused on safety to fit in. Do not underestimate the power of needing to fit in. When you feel like you’re working as a solid team, you want to do more of it. Motivation and inspiration from co-workers matters.
2Desire to do a good job. It’s sort of connected to the first point but deeper. People want to be given the chance to do a good job. They don’t want to be rushed. When they're engaged, they don’t want minimum performance to be acceptable. They want the chance to prove that they have talent and skill on the job. Pushing and rushing employees for production circumvents their ability to provide quality and safety. And it’s hard to feel proud of work you were forced to rush through. So, slow down a little. Let them give their best.
3Recognition. Tell someone that they are a valuable and valued member of the team and they will raise their game. Recognition is an important component of running a solid team-focused crew. Supervisors and safety people, besides following rules, need to encourage and recognize employees positively. Barking orders and rules takes no skill or talent. But recognizing people for the value they bring, that takes a special kind of individual. And, in return, employees will want to perform better.
4Having an impact. For employees, the work has to mean something more than just a paycheck and just following rules. Employees disengage from work that is meaningless. You do too. The work doesn't need to change the world. But it does have to mean something more than a paycheck. You can’t threaten or hold a job over someone’s head and make them feel that the work has meaning. If the work has little meaning, getting buy-in to safety will seem pointless. People want to feel like they make an impact; with their peers, their bosses and with their customers.
5Growing professionally. If you want to drain an employee's motivation, tell them they'll be in the same job for the rest of their days. And take away autonomy to do a safe job. People not only want but need to test themselves and their abilities. Most good workers want to move up. They want more responsibility. They want to increase their value and increase their reward. People want to feel like they are accomplishing something. Growing professionally also includes developing new skills that they can use later. Offer more responsibility especially in safety.
6Meeting client needs. Think about how much you cringe when someone complains about your work. Knowing that a client or customer is satisfied with the quality of the work is a motivator for an employee. People want to know that their work is admired and that it meets the customer’s needs. Yes, everyone wants their clients and customers to be happy with their work. It makes employees proud to hear good things from customers especially when a customer openly admires their safety ability. Ensure that you provide that feedback to employees.
When you provide the top six items to your crew members, you help overcome the disengagement rate. You help employees to take pride and ownership in the quality of their work. People who own and are proud of the quality of their work are engaged in how they do that work. Safety improves when engagement improves. Engagement improves when supervisors and safety people make it a point to value the people that they work with.
Kevin Burns helps organizations integrate caring for and valuing employees through their safety programs. In addition to working with and faciltating discussions between all levels of management and supervisory, Kevin can also give engaging, entertaining and inspiring presentations to front-line employees at safety meetings. Kevin Burns is a management consultant, safety leadership speaker and author of 9 books. He is based in Calgary, Canada.
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