By: Thomas Carson
Consider the benefits of a system where 84% of preventative/corrections, which by definition were generated to reduce organizational risk or improve operations, originated from what amounts to voluntary employee feedback.
Sospes was founded on the idea that employee engagement (another word for inclusion) is a powerful, yet under-appreciated, dynamic. We have all read studies that document the staggering costs to US companies of disengaged workers. According to a Gallup poll in 2016, 68% of workers are disengaged at work, costing their companies between $450 Billion and $550 Billion annually.
Studies have been a little less helpful on effective ways to address disengagement. Programs that address employee physical and mental well-being show promise. So do programs that foster work-life balance by encouraging social activities among workers.
We have found that another very effective way to encourage the value of engagement is to make employees true partners in managing the workplace by making it easy to include everyone in the conversation about safety and productivity.
How many companies have you worked in where there are barriers to the open communication of concerns or ideas from workers to management? Perhaps accidental, perhaps intentional, but the effect is the same. If the method for submitting a comment is to take the 3”x5” card at the station outside the supervisors’ office – you know – the box with the chain that used to have a pen attached – and complete your form in full view of God and country, then I submit the company probably isn’t getting the full benefit of its’ workers knowledge.
Employees have vast knowledge of what goes on in their workplaces, and often good ideas on how to make them better. To tap that reservoir of ideas requires a system in which comments, concerns and suggestions are accepted without judgement, acknowledged with gratitude, considered with respectful attention and acted on when appropriate.
Here are some fun facts from a recent study we conducted of our users: over a recent several month period, our users generated thousands of preventative/corrective actions. Only 16% originated from incident reports, or situations in which injuries or property damage occurred. 30% originated from close call, or near miss reports and a whopping 54% originated from employee observation reports. Put another way, 84% of preventative/corrections, which by definition were generated to reduce organizational risk or improve operations, originated from what amounts to voluntary employee feedback.
The benefits of this kind program should be obvious. First, the ideas you get from the field are generally opinions and suggestions formed from the experience of people actually doing the work. When you create an environment that rewards ideas, you might be surprised by how many good ones you receive. Second, when employees are meaningfully involved in the conversation, and by that I mean honest, engaged dialogue, most will respond positively. Engaged employees are safer and more productive.
The role of the safety function should no longer be solely about sending workers home physically intact. Imagine instead a safety function that is integrated with operations to engage all workers in the mission of continually improving the safety and operations of the organization. If you like the sound of that vision, call us to learn more, and let’s get better together.
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