If you think you’re doing all you can to keep your employees safe at work, you might want to double-check. Research shows employers are not meeting employee expectations when it comes to workplace safety. In the United States’ tight labor market, that disparity may very well impact your organization’s ability to attract and retain top talent.
Small businesses looking to gain every advantage in the post-pandemic economy should work to strengthen their safety cultures and motivate corresponding behaviors on the job. The first step is to go beyond compliance and demonstrate a genuine commitment to employee safety. People who feel protected and valued at work respect their employers more. That leads to companywide trust, which is integral to a strong safety culture.
Best Practices for Showing Employees Their Safety is a Priority
Following these best practices will make small businesses more successful at maintaining trustworthy work environments where employee safety is a clear priority:
Leading by Example
A strong safety culture relies on a top-down approach, where leaders at all levels of an organization support safety goals with both their words and their actions. When supervisors and managers fully engage in training and consistently model safety-first behaviors, they lend credibility to safety efforts. Employees tend to get on board when they can observe leaders’ commitment.
Prioritize safety initiatives, like training and the purchase of any necessary equipment. Provide PPE, repairs, technology or any other resources employees need to safely perform their duties, and leverage training opportunities and communications tools to regularly improve workers’ understanding of safety policies and procedures. Address any known hazards immediately and appropriately.
Establish and promote a clear reporting process that allows workers, managers and senior leaders to share safety concerns without fear of reproach. Without open lines of communication, employees won’t feel comfortable raising safety concerns or asking procedural questions. Also, ensure employees feel prepared and empowered to address smaller safety issues autonomously.
Soliciting Employee Input
Employees are more likely to adopt safety-first behaviors if their employers incorporate their feedback into workplace safety policies, training and procedures. Worker responses to surveys should also inform safety initiatives, identify knowledge gaps and gauge employees’ support of organizational safety programs.
When safety becomes a built-in mindset at work and a practice everyone incorporates into day-to-day activities, employees and employers both benefit. Employees feel safe, so they perform at higher levels, and employers see improved productivity, recruitment efforts and reputations.