The link between workplace safety and employee engagement is well-established. Engaged employees create fewer safety issues, while safe work environments promote engagement. In analysing decades of research, Gallup found that companies with low levels of worker enthusiasm experienced a 64% increase in safety issues when compared to those with highly engaged employees. In addition, COVID-19 has created new challenges for keeping employees healthy and enthusiastic, with many companies adopting a flexible approach to work arrangements. It’s more crucial than ever for all members of an organisation to grasp their roles in maintaining workplace health and safety. According to a study published in the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, this creates a more resilient, engaged workforce.
Richard D. Fulwiler believes that a company’s leadership sets the tone. He was previously the Director of Health and Safety Worldwide for Proctor & Gamble. Now, he has partnered with Louis J. DiBerardinis to launch a program on health and safety. Their intentions are to create better ways for leaders to engage their workforce.
Research indicates that employees are more engaged when they work in safe places. Both of these entrepreneurs believe that caring about employees is the first step. When organisations demonstrate they care about an employee, they can gain their trust. Treating the team as if they are real people is game-changing.
To create a clean, safe, and effective workplace, a company requires leaders. Leaders do the right things instead of doing things right, which is a big difference. DiBerardinis explains that managers stick to logistics and measurable outcomes. On the other hand, leaders connect the team to the company’s mission and values.
why workplace safety is a valid route to employee engagement
Workplace safety requirements mean you have to invest more in daily operations. This investment can signal to employees that you value them and care about their success. Unfortunately, a 2022 Gallup poll showed that an average of only 32% of workers were engaged at work. The other workers were either disengaged or completely dysfunctional.
Studies have shown that engaged workers are beneficial to businesses. Previous poll iterations discovered the link between engagement and safety. If a worker is engaged in their job, they are more likely to be aware of their surroundings. Plus, the odds of them doing something to protect a co-worker increase dramatically.
Since about a third of the workforce feels engaged, there are two-thirds that leaders can reach. If you can increase the engagement felt by this group, it will bolster the company’s bottom line. On the contrary, managers tend to be transactional in nature, only looking for an outcome.
Leaders can be transformational to an organisation, and they look beyond logistics. Fulwiler has commented on the power this can have on a company. When you support workers and help them care about their work, they put it all on the line. Engaged workers care about what they are doing, and they are proud of their contributions. Since they are more involved in their jobs, they will be less likely to cause accidents. Consequently, this effect creates a safer and more productive place to work.
implications for employee engagement
Gallup studied the link between employee engagement and organisational performance closely. They found that companies, teams, and organisations with higher levels of engagement perform at higher levels. Earnings-per-share growth was up to four times higher at companies with active engagement.
If you compare low-engagement companies to high-engagement ones, the effect is obvious. High-engagement enterprises have better customer service, retention rates, and fewer accidents. According to Gallup’s poll, they also score 21% in profitability.
The State of the Global Workplace 2022 report estimates that actively disengaged workers cost the world’s economy $7.8 trillion, or 11% of total global gross domestic product (GDP).
Companies that have highly engaged employees experience 18%-43% less turnover. That means you would spend less on hiring, training, and recruiting efforts. If you are trying to attract more workers, an engaged workforce is also helpful. You can anticipate more unsolicited employment applications.
Engaging companies also benefit from a reduction in absenteeism. This means your employees will be where they should be, when they should be there, more often. In addition to this advantage, your workers will generate 15% more value each. Finally, you can expect a 10% increase in customer loyalty and engagement.
From Gallup’s data, you can see some other marked benefits. There was a 28% decrease in theft or shrinkage. Employees were less likely to let customers walk away with items without paying. What’s more, a substantial 64% drop in safety incidents was noted. Workers paying close attention to their work are less likely to be hurt.
how to improve employee engagement
Since engaged employees perform better and stick around longer, how do you get more of them? Harvard Business Review came up with a list of evidence-backed suggestions to help. There are three main things that a leader must do to engage their workers.
First, they need to connect the employee to stuff they care about. If you want to revise the company’s mission statement, that can be helpful. Most employees feel better about working places committed to social change. If your company stands for corporate, social, and environmental responsibility, it will help. When employees are concerned about the bottom line alone, it is not good for their mental health. Employees can align their goals with a societal mission, boosting engagement.
Second, each employee should understand how they contribute to the whole. Being part of a company with a purposeful mission is not enough. People need to see in a real way how their efforts impact your company’s goals. They will put in more effort if they can see a connection between day-to-day work and a greater purpose. McKinsey has researched this and found that town hall meetings help. Small-group sessions like this can help employees align with the company’s mission.
Making the work less stressful is the third recommendation from Harvard. Boost the self-confidence of employees, and they will be less stressed when working. You can implement a mentorship program like Google did to affect self-confidence. Google’s employees were 25% faster at onboarding when they participated in the mentorship program. Improving the overall onboarding experience is also important. Ensure that workers meet the team, understand their objectives, and receive proper training. Allowing them to have a period of adjustment before they begin work in full will keep them from feeling overwhelmed. For current employees, managers and team leaders should schedule meetings in which they can discover everyone’s needs. Ask questions such as, “Do you have enough time for your workload?” And “Do you need more training?” Employees who feel respected and listened to will feel safer in the work environment.
Some companies have focused on rewarding employees with time instead of money. For the past three decades, working hours have been increasing. Therefore, time rewards are a hot commodity for many workers, and they can make them feel engaged. Bumble, the online dating app, gave its employees a mandatory week off. Rewarding your workers with additional time off is particularly effective motivation.
Another important aspect of employee wellness is psychological safety. Promoting psychological safety boosts engagement, creativity, and innovation. Creating this safe and inclusive workplace requires action from team leaders and managers. There are concrete steps that you can take:
- Set clear guidelines for appropriate and inappropriate behaviour.
- Create a process for reporting issues like racial, sexual, and gender-based harassment.
- Allow anonymous reporting.
- Add options for remote work to accommodate those with health issues or COVID-based fears.
- Seek out ideas from less gregarious employees.
- Limit harsh criticism; offer encouraging suggestions instead.
- Be open and transparent as a leader.
Managers should hold frequent meetings to keep their finger on the pulse of company culture. If problems are on the horizon, this allows you to spot them before they create deeper issues and damage employee morale.
employee engagement and safety matter
To sum things up, engaged employees are more effective, reliable, and hard-working than their counterparts. By creating an environment where employees feel safe, they’re more likely to be enthusiastic about their work, contributing more value to your company.
Author: Binu Jacob – EFS Engagement & Communications Lead
Photo credit: Monicore