The Biggest Obstacle To Improving Safety

biggest obstacle to safety

Engagement is the biggest problem in the workplace today. The surveys tell us that 71% of employees are NOT fully engaged. And it's not just Gen Y - they only account for 15% of the workforce forcing you to explain the other 56% to make it add up to 71. Stop kidding yourself. The problem is not just young workers.

You would think ...

You would think that a 71% 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. And yet, the numbers of the disengaged keep on rising.

Focus Here Instead

Engagement involves more than just time management, or leadership or team-building. Lack of engagement is a problem in every corner of every organization:

  • Annual Performance Review - with a workforce that is used to and requires daily feedback is counterproductive. People like 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.
  • Resumes 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.
  • Surveys - 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. 
  • Empowering 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.
  • Safety/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.

The 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.

Go Outside To Shift Engagement

Consider the idea of a safety speaker to re-engage your people in safety. It brings an outside perspective to your workplace and changes up the message in a fresh way. Also, by utilizing the right outside resource, you may find a voice that can say what you've been thinking, but could never say it without repercussions. Get a good primer in hiring safety speakers first by downloading the e-book, 5 Must-Know's In Hiring A Safety Speaker. Click "Get It Now."5 Must Knows of Hiring a Safety Speaker

Topics: safety speaker, safety, engagement, leadership, hiring, hr