It’s the most important reason, but keeping employees safe and injury-free is not the only benefit of providing a safe environment for workers. A safer workplace:
- Drives productivity and revenue growth.
- Has long-term effects on employee engagement, retention, and loyalty.
- Allows for better processes to be found and put in place.
For manufacturing and distribution operations, safety is a core value.
Two basic solutions to improving safety within an organization are following OSHA requirements and setting up internal safety protocols. But, thinking beyond these safety basics can reap more rewards.
Recent Gallup research on the “State of the American Workplace” found a strong connection between well-managed teams with highly engaged employees and improved safety. The top 25 percent of teams had half as many accidents as the bottom 25 percent—an incredible difference.
When safety is stressed by managers and a company, it shows employees that they are part of a company that values their well-being and livelihood. And, if employees are engaged, they are less likely to call in sick or leave the position.
How can your business nurture the relationship between safety and employee loyalty?
- Make safety a priority.
The more a topic is discussed, emphasized, and practiced in every aspect of a business, the more impact it will have on employees as individuals and as a team. Safety is not always inherently known, especially when it comes to the complexities of the manufacturing floor. Employees must be trained on a consistent basis.
- Listen and respond to employee safety concerns.
Provide a forum for employees to express concerns about safety. Whether it’s a short meeting at the beginning of every shift or an open-door policy for managers, it’s important to make sure there is a venue for employees to bring concerns to light. They are often the ones on the front lines who will see and/or experience an issue first.
Managers should be proactive about responding to these concerns and invest in ways to make the work environment safer, whether it’s an infrastructure improvement or a new technology that enhances the safety of a specific role.
- Ensure safety is everyone’s responsibility.
Manufacturing floors can have state-of-the-art safety features, but if an employee doesn’t utilize the safety technology then it doesn’t matter how advanced safety measures are. A safer workplace isn’t created by a manager or an executive or an individual; it’s created and maintained when every employee has a stake in the game. It’s created by good processes that are honored by everyone involved.
To this end, companies should empower each employee to rise to the occasion by holding employees accountable and praising safe practices. These efforts will help create a culture of safety at every level of the organization.
- Recognize and reward safety milestones.
Loyalty depends on your employees feeling valued for their role within the organization. Since safety is everyone’s responsibility, everyone (individuals and teams) could have a chance to be recognized for going above and beyond.
Set goals for safety achievements (e.g., all team members participate in safety training) or reward employees who come up with new safety initiatives. No matter what the goal is, the essential point is to formally recognize those accomplishments when the goal is met. Not only will safety in the workplace be improved— employees will be more engaged and feel they’re part of a greater goal.
Employee loyalty is invaluable to an organization. Nationally annual job turnover is about 15 percent. Whether your company is big or small, that’s a significant number.
Retaining top-performing employees is essential for growth, morale, and continuity. Creating a safe work environment is one means to gain employee loyalty; after all, safer employees are happier employees.
How is your organization improving safety? Have your safety practices had an effect on employee loyalty?
Scott Stone is the Director of Marketing for Cisco-Eagle, Inc., a provider of integrated material handling and storage systems for industrial operations. Scott has 25 years of experience in industrial operations and marketing.