6 Tips for Improving Employee Motivation for Health and Safety
Updated: Sep 21, 2022
Based on some quick google wizardry (because my maths is apparently terrible) I found that the average person will spend over 82, 000 hours of their lives at work.
That's more than 3, 416 days.
Considering you spend such an obscene amount of your time at work it should come as no surprise that the environment you work in has a massive impact on your life and the lives of your employees.
Your safety, health and well-being are at risk if your work environment isn't properly controlled, and it can't be properly controlled if your safety program is lacking.
I decided, then, to write up some tips you can use to pester your health and safety management team with. Who should in-turn involve your entire workforce.
I'll address overall safety culture and training. Fully committing to improving your work safety culture will also improve the general well-being of you and your employees.
The first tip then, is centred on training.
Ensuring you and your staff are trained in more than just basic health and safety training will go a very long way to improving your work environment.
Trust me, having staff who know a hazard when they see it and immediately understanding the risk and how to control it is by far the greatest way to ensure everyone's safety and well-being.
So my first tip is this, regularly send your employees to health, safety and well-being courses.
Specifically, courses that are interactive, or involve more than you blindly staring at an old 90s TV for 45 minutes and then answering a multi-choice examination before being sent back to your line.
I've been through those types of courses, and they're not conducive to real learning.
Group learning in an interactive, hands-on course will make most groups more receptive to the training. It's fun and it will allow your employees to discuss what they're learning while they're learning it.
It's also a great way of ensuring everyone is on the same page. Allowing those who grasp the concepts quickly to aid their colleagues better understanding, potentially increasing the course pass-rates.
And essentially turning your employees into mini-trainers themselves. Even if only for the day.
To top it off, if your employees enjoyed their day of learning they're more likely to be mindful of it at work. You'll notice more people coming forward to report hazards or health and well-being concerns than ever before.
My second tip kind of leads back around to the first.
It is this; make yourself accessible. Always.
Your employees should feel that they can come to you for anything regarding their health and safety. Whether you're capable of aiding them directly or not. You usually have the power to get them the help they need.
Maybe you're only connecting them to the right person or maybe you're able to solve their problem right then and there.
Either way, you helped and they will remember that.
A great way of making yourself accessible to your staff, and improving their confidence around you, is to attend the health, safety and well-being courses alongside them. Join in the discussions. Take the exam.
If your employees feel they're talking to a regular person, instead of the intimidating suit, you'll find them far more willing to open up about their concerns.
My third tip also ties into the previous two and will help to continuously reinforce the training you send your employees too.
Lead by example.
Being able to see you, as the driving force behind the business, following your own safety guidelines and attending the same courses will boost your employees drive to better the health, safety and well-being of themselves and their colleagues.
Conversely, if your employees happen to see you cutting corners because a job is a couple of hours late, it will only serve to instil in them a lack of respect for safety, your business and you.
If you're willing to endanger yourself and others, then it doesn't really matter if they do either. This is a dangerous mindset to have, and it happens too often.
Leading by example is easy and should be demonstrated daily.
Tip four is ensuring you vet your health and safety applicants and employ only the people who show you their dedication to safety.
You would think that any person who happened to get themselves into the health and safety industry must be willing to go to the ends of the Earth to ensure compliance, to the letter.
Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Proven by the shocking amount of articles I see, delivered to my inbox, from the Health and Safety Executive website every week.
I read about tragic accidents, but also, and almost as often, injuries or death caused by negligence regarding risk assessment and hazard control.
So, ask your potential health and safety people not only what qualifications and certificates they hold, but also their overall approach to health, safety and well-being.
Are they able to listen to your concerns or those of your employees? And, I mean really listen.
Are they able to demonstrate and promote good working practices when addressing your concerns?
Do they really care about your safety or that of your employees?
Because, as health and safety professionals your employees will look to them for guidance. As you lead by example, so too should they, cementing in the collective workplace mind a real respect and commitment to health, safety and well-being.
Tip number five is all about recognition over militant incentives.
Be wary of using disciplinary meetings for minor safety infractions, or using an incentive program where the least number of safety infractions win a prize. These methods of 'incentives' are quite militant and tend to bring forth resistance or outright defiance in the minds of your employees.
Instead, recognise an employee for their dedication to safety, on the spot, as you see it happen.
For example, as you see them properly carry out safety checks instead of neglecting them, or reporting a particularly dangerous hazard that has been missed.
A simple thank you, handshake and eye contact goes a long way and will make your employee feel great for coming forward, potentially preventing an incident.
As well as thanking them, attempt to involve them in the process of assessing and controlling the hazard they spotted.
You'll find more and more of your employees reporting potential risks and offering advice if their name is attached to the safety procedure that prevented their colleague from losing a finger.
Hell, if one of my employees prevented an accident like that I'd take them out to dinner and lavish them. That's a real incentive!
For my last tip, number 6, integrate modern safety software into your safety program.
Health and safety is a time (and paper) consuming beast.
Even for small offices with minimal hazards, there are boxes full of paperwork detailing risk assessments and the safety measures put in place to control them.
Not to mention the pages of detailed regulations you regularly skim over to ensure you're up to date.
With a dedicated software solution, you will be able to dispense with paperwork until you actually need it. The documents you do need are kept up-to-date with regards to regulatory compliance and are available with a few clicks.
You and your employees can find the information you need with a quick 30-second search and print it out instantly. Instead of digging through dusty boxes of yellowing paperwork for 30 minutes only to realise the document is outdated and you need to request a new one.
Click here to find out why I think current chemical safety training is outdated and what I'm doing about it!