As with any business function, an effective Health and Safety department relies on constant goal-setting, effective communication and support. No longer is the function siloed from the other workings of the business, and rightly so. Employee engagement is key to the department’s success.
Done right, Health and Safety is all-encompassing and captures the attention of the entire workforce, building a positive culture where engagement, feedback and action drive powerful change throughout the organisation, for the benefit of all workers, contractors and visitors.
Whilst a Health and Safety manager has their own department and workers to oversee, the rise in prominence of the function means that actually, they’re often managing many more people across the business, which can present challenges if there’s a lack of engagement with the process.
We speak to countless Health and Safety professionals daily, who often share frustrations when it comes to engagement across the business, so we wanted to pull together some pearls of wisdom to help get things off to a positive start.
With that in mind, here are just a handful of the relatively simple ways you can boost engagement and start to build a positive Health and Safety culture:
What’s the easiest way to find out the views, expectations and understanding of Health and Safety from the workforce’s perspective? Asking about them, of course!
Running regular surveys can be a huge benefit to a Health and Safety professional’s day-to-day, giving unparalleled insight into how engaged the workforce is with the organisation’s H&S processes.
From here, it’s easier to see where there are knowledge and training gaps, or where expectation doesn’t meet reality, so changes can be made efficiently. It also helps to put workers at the forefront of the conversation, reassuring each and everyone that their views are important to the function and have a direct correlation with the health, safety and wellbeing of every person in the business.
Finally, it’s also incredibly useful when it comes to sharing outputs (we’ll get to this bit shortly), such as data around Accident Frequency Rates, Lost Time Incidents and Sickness, for example, reiterating that every stakeholder within the business has a role to play in Health and Safety and the importance of them remaining informed.
Invest in technology
In a recent post we created in collaboration with Richard Byrne, Group Health and Safety Director at Travis Perkins, we looked at the ways in which technology is a fast-growing part of the H&S function, and one that cannot be ignored.
Naturally, as a Health and Safety technology company, we’re a little biased when it comes to this section, but considering the benefits of investing in technology are so powerful, it wasn’t something we could ever be coy about.
Data around Health and Safety is of crucial importance to the organisation, not only for the actual health, safety and wellbeing of workers, but to ensure the business is always moving forward and complying with the Law.
Who wouldn’t want to make the process of reporting near-misses and incidents simpler for a worker to complete? Who wouldn’t want to see real-time data from across the business and put this into action to drive positive change? Who wouldn’t want to rid themselves of the endless paper trail and be able to access clear data with the added benefits of security and data protection?
Any Health and Safety manager with an eye on the future of the profession is either already using technology, or considering the many options available to them. We believe it is the best way forward and can drive real engagement with H&S processes across the business. Let’s face it, we’ve seen it happen within so many client businesses so far!
Create a Health and Safety committee
One of the quickest ways to put Health and Safety in the hands of others and emphasise the point that it goes beyond the actual H&S function’s responsibilities is to literally put it in the hands of others, by way of a H&S committee.
Taking workers from across the business, in varying roles and levels of seniority, can provide a minefield of insight and put more ownership on individuals to ensure Health and Safety processes are adhered to.
It doesn’t need to be boring, either. Try incentivising committee members and managers by running competitions, utilising data to set benchmarks and targets that each individual can strive to achieve.
Your committee is essentially a fleet of H&S ambassadors, so can share insight with their colleagues/across departments and territories, as well as reporting up and giving real-world insight that you might not pick up through forms and process.
One important thing to note, however, is to ensure you’re making committee meetings focused and action-led, so time is spent usefully and those within the group feel they’re driving useful impact. Fail to do this, and you might start to sense some resentment, or worse: drop-outs.
Provide regular learning opportunities
Nobody wants to feel like they’ve arrived in a career cul-de-sac, so you should always look to find ways of helping your H&S team advance in their careers and their grow their knowledge base. A team structure and set responsibilities will create tempting prospects for promotion, but the chance to hear new ideas, and potentially put them into practice, can be even more important.
Outside of the H&S team, learning opportunities are of equal importance, giving others the chance to take on more responsibility within their own department’s H&S duties, or to even find those who wish to move into the Health and Safety function from other areas of the business.
Finding relevant courses, seminars, and even webinars for team members to attend can work to keep the interest high amongst dynamic staff, while also encouraging greater contributions from all.
Learning opportunities within a Health and Safety committee can also help you get the most of the individuals within it, providing even a basic curriculum which you can develop internally in line with your processes. This can go a long way when it comes to things like Risk Assessments, for example, as not only are you upskilling the committee, but you’re also ensuring they’re following procedures to your specification, which can save a lot of time and stress!
The exposure to fresh concepts, ideas, and processes around Health and Safety will only ever be of benefit to the business and are well worth the investment.
Share your insights!
Feedback is a two-way street, so as well as asking for involvement from others across the business, you should be sharing data and insight outwardly, too.
Again, technology can make this far easier as it allows organisations to create dashboards and processes based on their unique business needs, but even so, monthly or quarterly knowledge sharing around Health and Safety can have a really positive impact.
We recommend bringing this insight to life through infographics and video as they’re easier to understand and consume for the wider workforce. Save your full reports for the Board!
Knowledge sharing not only reiterates the importance of Health and Safety for each worker within the business but can also help you show the impact of your department in real terms. If you’re looking to progress in a Health and Safety role, it’s crucial you can display how your function is driving real business impact. That promotion could be closer than you think!
Did we miss anything?
If you’ve managed to instil a positive health and safety culture and have tips you’d like to share with our community, we’d love to hear from you.
Similarly, if workforce engagement is something you’ve struggled with, we could help. Get in touch for a no-obligation chat with our team, or if you’re interested, sign up for a demo to see how Notify can help you on your quest for employee engagement!