Think on Your Fleet: An Engaged Employee is a Safe Employee

Apr 15, 2014

Years ago as a consultant to a large logistics firm, I learned one of the greatest professional lessons that was taught to me by a thirty-year veteran operations manager. He summed up safety to me in one very succinct sentence: “Safety is about 10% technical knowledge and 90% how it is communicated to the workforce.”

This struck me as odd at first. In college we spent very little time learning how to communicate effectively with employees, and more on how to improve safety through engineering. But thinking about my client’s statement, I realized that effective communication is the key to engaging employees. As Harvard Business Review states in a recent blog post, engaged employees have 48% fewer safety incidents and are 22% more productive, (HBR Blog).

This has been demonstrated repeatedly to be the key factor in creating a world class safety organization by companies of all sizes. The big secret is that it does not take a huge safety budget to engage employees in the safety process.

An effective communications strategy from the management team requires only a few minutes of a manager’s time. Good managers focus on the positive and reinforce what their employees do well. They look for ways to improve their employees working conditions. Simply put, they listen. Once the lines of communication between employee and management are open, their employees are more likely to listen to what messages are being delivered.

It is also important to have employees engaged with one another. This can be accomplished by involving employees with a safety committee process, mentorship, or participating in group activities. The goal behind this is twofold. First, by involving the employees with each other, they begin to feel part of a cohesive group. By being part of the group, employees begin to care more for each other and actively look out for one another. When employees are engaged with each other, any accident or injury becomes a big deal, and the group works together to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

There is more depth into what can go into engaging employees in the safety process. But it is important to realize that the first key to safety is effective communication and employee engagement. It is not expensive, and you can take the first step in building a world class safety culture by simply talking to your employees in a positive, caring way.

If you would like to learn more about how to develop a world class safety culture, I would be happy to discuss how I have helped companies such as yours to reduce injuries and engage employees.