6 Key Parts of Improving Safety Culture

What employees want from the job can change your culture.

In my last post (When Employees Don't Give You Safety Performance), I presented an overview of what employees want from their supervisors and immediate managers. This time around, we are going to take a look at what employees want from their jobs. Because if they don’t get what they want from their job, why would you expect them to give their best effort, especially in safety?

TinyPulse, an employee engagement and performance company, conducted a study over the course of a full year. The study analyzed over 200,000 responses from 500 organizations across the globe who use the TINYpulse employee engagement survey. They compiled a Top 10 list of what employees want from their work, and the answers are as follows: 

  • list-1First, employees want camaraderie and peer motivation – to fit in. No employee wants to ever feel like an outsider. They want to most of all fit in and feel like their co-workers are encouraging them to be a part of the team.
  • Second, employees want to have the intrinsic desire to do a good job – they really want to be allowed to do good work – not rushed work.
  • Then, third, they want to feel encouraged and recognized.
  • The fourth most cited response was that employees want to have a real impact – to feel that the work means something more than just a paycheck.
  • They, of course, want to grow professionally – not necessarily to be promoted but to at least improve their skill-set.
  • Employees want to really do want to meet client/customer needs and do the best for the customer.
  • Then came money and benefits – remember where this one finished – 7th.
  • Employees really feel that they need to have a positive supervisor or manager – their first contact in the company.
  • Your people really do want a reason to believe in the company.
  • And summed up in tenth place were all of the other assorted answers.

As a safety person or supervisor, this should be viewed as an incredibly interesting list, especially when you consider money finished in 7th place. How many of the top 6 answers do you help them get each day, without missing a day?

Start with the Top 3 responses to create momentum in culture.

The top three responses from employees are of utmost importance: to fit in, to be recognized especially by their peers, and to have permission to do a great job. In other words, employees want to feel that they are part of a team that often gets recognized for their good work (not their rushed work - because rushed work is rarely good work).

Here’s your takeaway and the key to building a better safety culture. Your employees want six other things more than they want more money (that is, of course, assuming that you are already paying them fairly). Throwing more money at employees to make them perform better doesn’t work. They will take your money - especially if you're not giving them the six things they want more than money. It's their compensation for having to put up with a lousy job that doesn't recognize them, build them up, to work as a team and to constantly improve themselves.

Money won't fix that problem. It will do nothing more than temporarily dull the pain.

Money doesn't fix engagement. Supervisors do.

New call-to-action As I outlined in my book, PeopleWork, money doesn’t fix engagement and employee problems. Supervisors do. Supervisors and front-line safety people need to acquire the skills to be able to help employees:

  1. fit in and be accepted by their peers,
  2. do a good job - not a rushed job,
  3. to be recognized by the supervisor and especially their peers,
  4. to feel like the job has meaning beyond revenue-generating,
  5. to improve their skill-set and ready them to take on more responsibility,
  6. and to do good work for and please the customer.

All of that comes ahead of money.

If you’re not giving your employees the top six items, they are not going to give you their best effort. If you want them to give you what you want, you have to give them what they want. When employees start feeling like the job is giving them everything they want from their work, they start giving their best effort: that includes safety performance.

You can affect a serious change in your workplace safety culture when you when you get busy on being exceptional at delivering the first six items on this list. This may be the best part of the whole post; there isn't anything on this list that cannot be delivered to employees by front-line supervisors.


Learn more strategies to create a high-participation safety culture. Put Kevin Burns' expertise to work in your organization. Kevin Burns is the creator of the M4 Method™ and the 90-Day Safety Accelerator program. He is the author of PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety.

Get details and more information http://www.kevburns.com/contact

Topics: safety leadership, kevin burns, safety culture, safety marketing, safety communications, peoplework, safety complacency