Track Your Progress on the Safety Culture Journey

No company is going to tell you safety doesn’t matter… that it’s not important – ESPECIALLY in 2020 in the context of a global pandemic. But long before COVID-19 was identified, at PeopleResults we’ve had the privilege of working with clients on the topic of safety.

Not the “check the box – are you OSHA compliant?” version of safety. But the “transform your culture”, and “this is how you show up differently as a leader” version of safety. How are they different?

Start with a different mindset

The absence of injury does not equate to the presence of safety. It might just mean you were lucky. This means measuring KPIs like recordable incidents is minimally helpful (if at all).

Instead, what is your organization doing to systemically work to reduce exposure and drive down risk at the job site? At headquarters? We have seen at least one situation where, based on data tracked over time, headquarters was the most dangerous place to work. (And by the way, the possibility of injury remains while working from home too!)

Re-assess your under-lying processes

How do your talent acquisition processes work? Do you have safety-related questions or behaviors incorporated into your interviews? If so, are they the safety leadership behaviors identified for your future culture? Particularly if your organization frequently converts contractors or consultants into employees, this could be very telling.

How do your promotion and compensation processes work? Are the leaders who practice the new, desired safety behaviors the ones publicly rewarded with promotions (and raises)? Or is it the individuals everyone knows take short cuts but get the job done on time and/or under budget and also happen to be best buddies with the guys in charge?

Learning: a different way

We’ve helped our clients learn how to approach others to talk about safety in new and different ways, grounded in compassion. We’ve helped clients deploy multi-media to demonstrate risk tolerance levels and tendencies.

The organization must have a new and different, but common vocabulary around safety. That way everyone understands each other and the heart behind what is being said to accomplish the work while simultaneously demonstrating care towards one another.

Safety is often determined by the strength of relationships and trust between leaders and teams. We’ve seen clients have tremendous success with integrating leadership principles with safety, and vice versa, at every level in the organization.

Where is your company on the safety culture journey? Still focused on compliance? Or beginning to transform with an emphasis on safety as an aspect of leadership through care, compassion and mutual respect for one another?

Special thanks to Heather Nelson for her contributions to this blog post. Betsy Winkler is a Partner at PeopleResults. She can be reached on Twitter @BetsyWinkler1

Betsy Winkler