What Drives Employee Engagement in a Safety Culture? (Part 2)

What Drives Employee Engagement in a Safety Culture? (Part 2)Operations leaders and other safety leaders interested in strengthening the safety culture of their organization can do no better than to begin building levels of employee engagement. In our last issue we covered three proven drivers of employee engagement that any leader can use to raise levels of engagement. There we covered things like (1) Perception of job contribution and value of the job, (2) Clarity of job expectations and the ability to work well, and (3) Involvement in decision making. There are three more drivers of engagement that are worth mentioning here that, if implemented, can help drive levels of employee engagement upward. [content_protector password=”wdeesc” identifier=”wdeesc”]

As a reminder, the six drivers of engagement we’re covering here are:

  1. Perception of job contribution and value of the job
  2. Clarity of job expectations and the ability to work well
  3. Involvement in decision making
  4. Opportunities for development and growth
  5. Regular, quality, two-way feedback with a supervisor
  6. Immediate recognition for achievement

As I mentioned, we’ve already covered the first three of these in the previous article, so we’ll address only drivers 4-6 below:

Development, Feedback and Recognition 10 Things You Absolutely MUST KNOW About Reinforcing Your Safety Culture By Building EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT

Driver 4: Opportunities for development and growth: Do I as an employee have an opportunity to develop my talents in ways that I want to develop them?  The normal HR learning path for moving an employee from Operator 1 to Operator 2 is one way to develop talent. But that’s not the primary idea here. Instead, we should take the time to discover what drives each employee individually so that we can help him/her create a personalized development plan to reach their own personal goals.

Where do their natural talents lay? What do they want to get better at? Where would they like to be in three years? Our job as leaders is to discover this, and then help them carve out a learning path that will allow them to grow personally in ways that appeal to them.

One way to develop them in ways that may not only tap into their personal desires but also may benefit the company and increase that employee’s “line of sight” is something we mentioned in Drivers 1 and 2 — cross-training them for other positions. Cross training allows them to build related skills, makes them more marketable to the company, and fulfills their development needs.

FCTC OnlineThink about ways to apply this to safety. What are some ways we can develop their talents that would benefit the health and sustainability of a safety culture? Can we develop their facilitation skills to lead safety toolbox meetings in more effective ways? Can we give them additional training on how to conduct more effective safety observations? Can we help them become an active member of a safety committee (or sub-committee) and provide coaching that makes them a more valuable contributor to that committee? Be creative in your development, and be sure to align it to their natural talents.

Driver 5: Regular, quality, two-way feedback with a supervisor: Do I as an employee receive regular constructive feedback from my supervisor about my performance, and do I have an opportunity to give my supervisor constructive feedback as well?

Your employees have a need to know what you think of their performance on the job. And it’s not fair to them to wait till the end of the year to tell them this during their performance reviews. Some of us do a pretty good job of pulling them aside and having a conversation with them while out on the floor or in the field, and that’s important for purposes of building relationships with them.

But that kind of discussion (impromptu as it is) doesn’t allow them enough preparation time to have a meaningful discussion focused on performance. That type of discussion needs to be scheduled (once a month for 15-30 minutes or so is ideal for this). Let them take some ownership for this conversation by taking the initiative to get on your calendar and decide what day and time works best for them.

Also, this should be a two-way conversation, not just you doing a lot of talking about their performance. Solicit their thoughts on how well you are doing as a leader, and make changes based on their input. This will go a long way toward establishing trust and respect, both of which are crucial for building levels of engagement.

Driver 6: Immediate recognition for achievement: Do I as an employee receive timely recognition for actively taking steps to improve my safety leadership. Employees who are recognized and/or rewarded for stepping up and leading a safety culture in ways that are new to them are more likely to repeat that performance tomorrow. So we have to observe, recognize and reward the steps they take to get better.  

The occasional team dinners or other means of recognizing team achievement are good to do, but they are no substitute for recognizing the achievements of each individual. And it doesn’t have to cost anything. By simply praising them for going above and beyond expectations makes them want to come to work the next day and do it again.

And while there doesn’t need to be a lot of pomp and ceremony around it, make recognition a public thing (in a team meeting, or in front of a senior (executive) leader in the company).

Some Final Thoughts About These Drivers

You may have noticed as you worked through these drivers of engagement that they are interconnected with each other. If you’re doing one it’s assumed you’re doing others. For instance, figuring out what they want to do developmentally will require regularly scheduled one-on-ones with them. That’s intentional. Integrate these drivers in a way that becomes second nature to you in your own leadership, and before you know it you will have built their levels of employee engagement.

That’s it for this edition of Recordable INSIGHTS Newsletter. Until next time.

~ES [/content_protector]

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.