Better Engagement for Better Safety Ownership

employee engagement for better safetyOne of the key factors for building a safety culture is ensuring employee engagement.  Employee Engagement can be defined as a state of mind in which an employee: (1) finds purpose and satisfaction in their work, (2) has positive feelings about the organization, its values and its goals, (3) puts discretionary (or non-mandatory) effort into their work – in terms of their time, their intellectual capital and their energy, and (4) has a heightened sense of safety ownership. 

An engaged employee is “Someone who is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about their work, and will act in a way that furthers their organization’s interests.”   To the extent that a safety culture is central to that organization’s values and mission, the employee will adopt those values and that mission.   So, how do we build employee safety engagement? Well, for starters we have to create a culture of engagement. [password=”better-engagement”]

First, we have to provide clarity of expectations around materials and equipment: “Is the company helping me to understand the ultimate outcomes of my use of this equipment, and is it supplying me with what I need to get the job done safely?”  Fulfillment of this helps drive good decision making when it come to the tension that often exists between safety and production.  Non-fulfillment, on the other hand, results in a disengaged employee.

Second, employees need to feel as though they are contributing to the success of the organization, and that there is a good employee/job fit.  “Do I have ample opportunity on the job to do what I do best?”  Enjoyment of work contributes to the employee’s perception of how they contribute to the organization and the positive feelings they have toward the organization, which in turn impacts their level of engagement.

Third, there must be frequent and immediate recognition for a job well done.  Individuals who hear feedback from others about their success tend to broaden their thinking about what else they can do to contribute.  Perceptions of contribution are also heavily influenced by leaders building relationships of trust and demonstrating genuine care and concern for employees.

Fourth, employees must have a sense of belonging to something beyond themselves.  Having their opinions heard and acted upon, and involving them in the decision making process of the organization, heightens the level of ownership that they assume for the job.

Finally, fifth, employees who have the opportunity to discuss their progress and grow from it tend to have positive feelings toward the organization that in turn builds engagement.  This underlines the importance of continuous field coaching to improve their role in a safety-leadership culture.

So, clarity of expectations, feeling of contribution, recognition on the job, a sense of belonging, and opportunities for growth all combine together to build employee engagement.

Well, that’s all the time we have for this edition of Recordable INSIGHTS. Until next time, be sure all your safety initiatives are built-in, not bolted on.


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About the Author

Eric Svendsen
Eric Svendsen, Ph.D., is Principal and lead change agent for safetyBUILT-IN, a safety-leadership learning and development organization. He has over 20 years experience in creating and executing outcomes-based leadership development and culture change initiatives aligned to organizational goals, and he personally led the safety-culture initiatives of a number of client organizations that resulted in “best ever safety performance” years for those companies.