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6 Places To Start Fixing Safety Engagement

Safety managers, engagement just became your department!

biggest obstacle to safety

Engagement is the biggest problem in the workplace today. The surveys tell us that 70% of employees are NOT fully engaged. And it's not just Gen Y - they only account for 34% of the workforce forcing you to explain the other 36% to make it add up to 70. Stop kidding yourself. The problem is not just young workers.

You would think ...

You would think that a 70% level of disengagement, a serious drop in focused-attention productivity, would be cause for grave concern for companies. After all, lost productivity creates a huge financial mess forcing companies to continue to pay more and get less. You'd think that there would be a hue-and-cry from Corporate North America to find solutions intended to curb this very real problem that is plaguing our workplaces and costing us money.

But there isn't.

It's apparently still not painful enough. If it were painful enough, companies would be doing something about it. But they're still not getting it and here's why: because it an "employee" engagement problem (terribly named as though it's all the employees' fault).

Stop Concentrating On The Wrong Things

In misguided attempts to curb the problem, companies are sending employees to team-building workshops and time-management courses hoping that the engagement problem will get fixed. They're even sending their managers to Leadership courses hoping that will fix it. But they are giving their managers leadership training without ensuring that supervisors and managers have the rudimentary managerial basics under their belts first. Without a solid foundation, your house will fall down.

Focus Here Instead

Lack of engagement is a problem in every corner of every organization. And it has never been more true in safety. We are hearing the words apathy and complacency as causes for safety incidents. Both of those excuses are rooted in a lack of focused engagement. Any employee or supervisor focused on the job (engaged) will not be complacent about the job. And yes, there are managers and supervisors who also lack engagement - setting up potentially perilous outcomes with their own crews.

So here the six places where it needs to get better immediately:

1Annual Performance Review - with a workforce that is used to and requires daily feedback is counterproductive. People enjoy using Facebook because someone is engaging them there several times per day. Use the Facebook model as a model of how often to give feedback. Remember that idea when it comes to safety.

2Resumes and Interviews - You're still hiring by looking at a resume instead of getting to know the person holding the resume. You don't know and can't know anything about a person after only a one-hour interview. Consider short-term projects to identify how well people work in safety instead of relying on interviews and make sure a safety person has input in every step of hiring.

3Surveys - Anonymous surveys only serve to give the illusion that you're actually listening. Why not simply ask them to solve the problems they're supposedly creating? Surveys are not special anymore. Besides, most employees think the findings aren't likely to be addressed anyway so what's the point? But ask them in a meeting to offer feedback and you get an earful of ideas.

4Empowering Employees - Explain to me why the "right thing" only resides in a manager's office. Don't make your people ask if they can do the right thing for each other. Trust that they WANT to do the right thing - especially if it gets them home safely.

5Safety/Security - You're still asking employees to be loyal to the company with no assurance from you will be loyal to them if something drastic were to occur. You ask for certainty from employees but don't mitigate their underlying uncertainty. Safety and security isn't just physical. It's mental as well. Remove doubt. It's distracting.

6Management Skills Development - Front-line supervisors require these skills. Issues happen at the front-line level where coaching of employee engagement is most critical. Do not hang your supervisors out to dry. Give them the skills they need to solve the engagement problem. But don't be surprised if nothing changes without these skills.

5 Must Knows of Hiring a Safety SpeakerThe highest numbers of certified safety professionals are in the workplace right now and while engagement levels continue to plummet, safety incident numbers are beginning to rise. Safety managers, engagement just became your department!

Get under the hood of your workplace. No department or person should be sacred, untouchable or off-limits in any organization. Everything and everyone should be under the microscope.

Kevin Burns is a management consultant, safety speaker and author of "The Perfect Safety Meeting" and his newest #1 Amazon Health & Safety Bestseller, "Running With Scissors - 10 Reasons To Invest in Safety In Slow Times." He is an expert in how to get through to people - how to talk with them so they hear and understand. Kevin's presentation "Trust The Process - Instill A Safety Attitude To Build An Engaged Culture Of Safety" will help your organization reach the following goals: better engagement and buy-in to safety, increased teamwork, better communication, lower turnover resulting in increased profits from production. Click here for more information and to discuss your needs with Kevin.

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Topics: safety leadership, engagement, safety engagement