Are Engaged Employees Safer Employees?

Posted by
Cami Miller
on Aug 18, 2016

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The spectrum of employee engagement spans from Engaged to Contributing, to Disengaged, to Hostile. Engaged employees are active participants in all levels of business operations, and are highly committed to the success of the business. The engaged employee not only executes their job brilliantly, but positively and powerfully impacts others.

What does that mean to the bottom line?

  • Higher employee productivity (26%) as well as a lower turnover risk
  • Twice the ability to attract top talent.
  • Greater total returns (13%)
  • Fewer days of work missed (20%)
  • Ranked as exceeding expectations in their performance reviews (75%)
  • Three times more likely to please customers and exceed their expectations
  • More innovative and more supportive of organizational change initiatives.

Increasing employee engagement is a challenge. One of the things that companies find critical to employee engagement is a clear corporate purpose or mission, which employees identify with and want to support. It makes employees feel their job is important and calls them to think more expansively—considering the big picture. Nowhere is this more valuable than in safety. Two critical aspects of safety, conscientious behavior and attention to detail are greater in the engaged employee.

Leaders must encourage employees to watch for hazards and should make it easy for them to share their feedback and concerns. When employees feel that their opinions count they are more likely to speak up when safety is threatened. When leaders act on the feedback received, the employees feel heard and engaged as a part of the company’s safety strategy. Because safety excellence is a marathon and not a sprint, the engaged employee has the staying power to take part in turning a safety initiative into a safety culture.

When an accident occurs, productivity can suffer, and insurance claims can significantly damage a company's bottom line. The truth is, the real cost of the most serious accidents cannot be measured. Considering the cost and consequences of a safety incident, it is vital that leaders on all levels are focused and engaged around safety. Without full commitment to safety on every level of the organization, creating the safe workplace is not possible.  Regardless of the industry and no matter what the company’s size, businesses will benefit greatly from developing an engaged workforce which is focused on targeted actions, keen on identifying hazards and committed to preventing safety incidents and injury.

Engaged workforce results in 70% fewer incidents in the Top-Quartile work units.  Gallup 2016 Q12 meta-analysis of 82,000 business units and 1.8 million employees in 230 organizations across 49 industries in 73 countries.

Tips to increase employee engagement

Know where you are. Survey your employees to find out what the current reality is regarding engagement and safety, Identify the gaps between where you are and where you want to be. Set goals on what you are going to improve to close the gap and commit to them.

Assess employee satisfaction. Find out what employees love about the company and what they do not like. Look at key satisfiers: communication, working conditions, pay, safety, work relationships, recognition, development, meaningful work, creative challenges, fair treatment, benefits, and workplace demands. Determine actions you can take to improve satisfaction that will truly make a difference.

Identify what needs to be improved and focus on changing it.  Once you identify what you intend to change, communicate often to show what you are doing, and measure whether what you are doing is having the desired impact. Enlist employee’s participation in making the changes relevant and permanent. By being transparent regarding the challenges to be addressed as well as the efforts being made to change them, employees will feel involved in the changes and are more likely to participate.

Assess company leadership and employee development.  Are leaders effective at leading the company and developing others? Most importantly, do leaders make employees feel that they matter and are appreciated? They will stay longer if they feel they are being developed and challenged.

Show that you are engaged. Employees will take their cue from leadership. Are leaders engaged and engaging? Your most valued employees are mirrors of your level of commitment to them and to the company.  If you want commitment, show commitment, not only to the company, but also to your employees.

Recognize good work. Focus on what is right and acknowledge it frequently. A good rule of thumb is 10 positive compliments/acknowledgements for every reprimand, or negative comment. If the action is outstanding, the appreciation should be in writing. If an employee goes above and beyond regularly, ask your boss, or your boss’s boss to extend the recognition. There is nothing like being noticed, praised, and rewarded for good work to motivate an employee to even higher levels of engagement.

Engagement is dynamic.  You cannot set it and forget it, and you cannot automate it. In fact, good employee engagement is never finished. Even though it requires commitment, attention and action, it is worth it. Frequently and consistently demonstrating that the company and its leaders are committed to its employees is critical to creating an engagement culture in your company. If more profit less hassle appeals to you, employee engagement is the key.

A safety perception survey can help you evaluate your company's safety culture to determine areas for improvement.

Share your thoughts about employee engagement and its impact on safety in the comment section below.

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Tags: Best Practices, safety culture

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