Could repairing health and safety issues in the workplace lead to increased morale among workers? Dr. Robert McLellan, author of a May 2015 paper on the value of healthy workers, found that a company’s value can be directly tied to the health of the workforce and that by investing in employees – including safety programs – costs will decrease.
A worker’s satisfaction is related to how safe they feel on the job, whether safety is related to the task itself, and the interactions they have with other workers or customers. Educating workers about the company’s commitment to safety can improve morale. Gallup research has consistently shown a link between a worker’s feelings of safety and security in the workplace and morale. Improving communication about safety sends a strong message about commitment and improves worker dedication and morale. This can be done by measuring safety and communicating the company’s dedication to its safety record.
Providing employees with the tools they need improves morale by showing employer commitment. Whether this is PPE in the form of hard hats, ear plugs, etc. to protect them from hazards, or resources to get the job done. Boosting morale goes above just complying with regulations. Companies that focus beyond compliance tend to have employees with high levels of morale. This spills over into employees’ life and health outside the workplace as well.
It’s also important to consider when investigating a safety incident, why a rule was broken. Punishing too severely for first offenses and honest mistakes can hurt worker morale. Workers can take on the idea that safety is working against them in their job roles. Instead allowing the investigation to reveal why the worker behaved in the manner they did can uncover solutions.
Similarly, overreacting to incidents can be detrimental to a safety program. If a safety program is well-run, a grandiose response is unnecessary. New rules should only be implemented if insufficient rules were the cause of the incident. Implementation of rules won’t necessarily change worker behavior.
Finally, realizing it is impossible to remove all risk from the workplace but that workers can be trained to take fewer, smarter risks in their daily tasks. Procedures can help define risk taking. Workers will be happier and more productive if they have the confidence in their ability to make decisions to manage risk in their daily tasks.
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By Stacey Wagner