As a leader, no doubt, you’re well aware of the importance of safety in the workplace. But, is it something that is always front of mind, do you continually push to make improvements, or are you stuck in a safety rut? In the same way as our employees can become complacent about their day to day activities, assuming the way they have always done things is the right way, we can become complacent in the way we manage safety. While you may have done everything, you thought necessary to build safety processes and procedures, the workplace is an evolving beast. Driving workplace safety needs to be an ongoing process. But, how do you keep yourself and your workers motivated when it comes to safety so that you can succeed in driving change?
Do You Have a False Sense of Safety Security?
If you’ve implemented workplace safety processes, trained your employees in safety procedures and followed all the rules and regulations, it would be easy to assume you’ve got safety sussed. Unfortunately, it is this assumption, the reliance on workplace health and safety being sorted, that can lead us into a false sense of security. Complacency is a huge danger in the workplace. Our workers can get used to doing things a certain way and become oblivious to the hazards around them. And, the longer our employees have worked for us, the more chance there is of them becoming blindsided to the safety risks.
As safety leaders, we can’t afford to become complacent, not least because our actions set an example for everyone else in the organisation. By assuming our workplace safety systems and procedures are working and not reviewing, monitoring and pushing for change, we’re sending out a signal that we’ll all be fine. Our actions can give our workers a false sense of safety security, and that is a dangerous place to be. The question is, however, how do we constantly change and how do we keep ourselves and our workplace motivated when it comes to safety.
How Can You Encourage Change?
As leaders, we hold a central role in creating a safety culture that embraces change. To lead our employees, we need to show them the link between safety leadership and safety management, creating the building blocks of a positive safety culture. There are some key things we can do to encourage change:
- Lead by example – as leaders, we must have a genuine commitment to workplace health and safety, and that starts with ourselves. We need to follow the right safety behaviours and practice what we preach. And, this level of commitment should be demonstrated by the entire management team.
- Build relationships – workplace safety shouldn’t be led from the top and dictated to the rest of the organisation. We should empower safety champions and people across the organisation to lead safety in their own style. By building relationships, we encourage collaboration and help everyone to feel more involved and invested in our safety goals.
- Communicate effectively – as well as building relationships, we need to make sure everyone can reach us with any safety ideas or concerns. The reporting processes we have in place should be simple and effective. Moreover, we should ensure that we always give feedback, creating conversations around safety to keep the subject front of mind.
If we are to get out of a rut and manage organisational change, we need to communicate, collaborate and consult. By embracing a bottom-up approach to safety leadership, we create an open dialogue, promote trust and encourage change.
The Importance of Motivation in Driving Change
To keep pushing forwards with our workplace health and safety goals and to build and retain a safety culture, motivation is key. And that is no mean task. At first, motivation may come easy, when we and, in turn, our employees are revved up and excited for a new challenge. However, changing safety culture isn’t something that happens overnight. We need to continually work at it, and that means keeping the gas on. To keep ourselves and everyone around us motivated, we should consider:
- Taking action – the first step towards change doesn’t always have to be a big one. The trick, however, is taking a step, and then taking another one. We need to keep moving, to be seen to be taking action and putting workplace safety first. Every small action we take can initiate change and motivate us to continue.
- Adding variety – we can all get bogged down with the monotony of day to day tasks. Adding variety to our employees’ routines can help release them from repetition that can result in complacency. Likewise, by varying the way we work, we can keep ourselves engaged in our safety mission.
- Celebrating success – taking time to acknowledge progress goes a long way towards keeping motivation levels up. We should celebrate every success and ensure to communicate those successes with the organisation, demonstrating how safety can make a difference.
The Value of Great Safety Leadership
Safety leadership is a vital ingredient in driving change. We need to lead by example, demonstrating excellent safety behaviours and motivating others to do the same. We have the ability to send a powerful message to those we work with by demonstrating our attitudes towards workplace health and safety. If we are successful, by all striving for the highest safety outcomes, we can drastically reduce risk. Moreover, by creating a culture that values safety, everyone should feel more engaged, more valued and, ultimately, safer in their day to day activities.
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