Engaging Staff in EHS
GEMMA COLLINS DOYLE
Well, if there was a magic formula I could give you for this one; let me tell you, I would be charging you for it! Engaging staff in the area of EHS is no mean feat, as I am sure any seasoned EHS Manager would tell you. It’s a tough challenge for sure and an area that you will need to keep coming back to and in some cases, reinvent the wheel. To be fair, it’s a big part of the role of an EHS Manager and if done well, can ensure that your company is reaching the targets it needs to in all areas of Environment, Health and Safety.
If your employees are engaged and genuinely interested in EHS, then your policies and procedures will be live and effective. If they are not however, you are fighting a losing battle and will end up just firefighting every EHS issue that comes your way. “You will always have a handful of employees that are genuinely interested in the area and these are like gold, so make sure you treat them well!”
Speaking from experience, the role of EHS Manager can be a lonely one (if you are not on a team of EHS experts), so having employees on your side, so to speak, makes life in the field a lot easier and lot more interesting. In truth, you will always have a handful of employees that are genuinely interested in the area and these are like gold, so make sure you treat them well! It’s the remainder of the staff you will have to work on to get on board!
So, how are you going to get your employees engaged in EHS? Check out some of the suggestions below and feel free to let us know what works best for you.
Games and Competitions
Let’s be honest, EHS may not be seen as the most fun topic of conversation, but that’s no reason why you can’t make into something fun. Running regular competitions related to EHS, will keep things light hearted and also top of mind for everyone. Most people have a competitive streak, so make good use of it!
Recognition can be the highest form of praise and motivation. When a department or an individual is recognised publicly, it can have a positive knock on effect to developing better safety practices. Rewards can be monetary or awards.
Offer the necessary levels of education, training and resources so that employees can take ownership of the safety process. A company cannot expect employees to take pride and be enthusiastic over the long term to just conform to top-down management programs, and/or merely comply with EHS regulations. The single most powerful source of motivation is employee ownership of the safety process.
Get employees involved in everyday issues related to EHS. Their input into safety procedures, selection of PPE, and other decisions that affect their own personal safety cannot be underestimated. The employees on the job know better than anyone the issues that they have when it comes to health and safety, so make sure they have a voice and that they know it is safe for them to use it.
Routine publication of EHS statistics for the company
Don’t be shy to show results, good or bad. When employees start seeing positive results from eliminating hazards etc., then they will want to be part of that winning team and will want to get involved.
If you feed them, they will come!
Something I learnt in the early days of my safety meetings … make sure the coffee is hot and the cakes are sweet! Remember, a lot of employees are volunteering their time and effort, away from the regular role and helping you out. Make sure you return the favour by having plenty of the above in full supply!
Use some humour!
EHS doesn’t have to always be serious and full of fear and dread. To keep people interested you are going to have to create some laughter and get people talking. Open your meetings with a funny video or slide, showing some fun pictures can help lighten the mood!
There are many more ways to keep employees engaged, including toolbox talks, online training, home safety, effective communication, insurance, bulletin boards, newsletters and so on.
The most important thing is that you have an engagement plan in place and that employees see that an effort is being made to engage with them, just make sure you have some fun while doing it!