Good communication contributes to a healthy work environment and is critical to improving workplace safety. But knowing how or where to implement effective strategies for communication can be daunting, so we’ve pulled together some proven tips to help get you started.
Seek to Understand
Before mandating new behaviors, take the time to understand what is driving the current ones. What are the barriers keeping people from engaging in safe behavior in the workplace? What messages resonate and are they personally relevant to staff? How do employees prefer to communicate? Do they feel comfortable providing feedback?
Leadership can promote open and honest conversation about safety issues when they ask for feedback and actively understand what employees have to say. Responding with positive phrases such as “I am so glad you brought this to my attention,” or “thank you for taking the time to talk to me about this,” can go a long way.
By working together to identify safety gaps and develop collective solutions, you can improve buy-in and trust from your team. Asking questions and understanding their perspectives will help people feel included, rather than being lectured to or nagged at. While it may take a little bit more effort, it can help improve the overall culture of safety in the workplace by ensuring people understand specific risks as well as the personal benefits of improved workplace safety.
Clearly Set Expectations
Often a barrier to improving safety is that people simply don’t understand what’s expected of them. Maybe the training wasn’t clear or perhaps guidelines or policies were incomprehensible or vague. The most effective way to ensure people understand what’s expected is clear, concise communication. It’s not enough to say ‘ok, go be safe’. People need to understand ‘how’.
If anything, remember this: Keep it simple, specific, and short.
Avoid jargon that isn’t common. Use short sentences. Where possible, show diagrams. Focus communication efforts on one message that is consistent every time, and easy to remember.
An example in the context of a property manager could be: “Check-In before You Walk In.”
The more you communicate in simple and specific ways, the easier it is for employees to understand what they need to do, how they need to do it, and why they need to do it. Once the safety issues are understood – and that everyone has a role to play— improving safety practices can get easier.
The fastest way to shut down a conversation is to only discuss the negatives. Focusing on the positive benefits of safety will help reframe the conversation and people will be quick to “tune out.”
One way to do this from an organizational perspective is to focus on rewarding employees for providing ideas to improve safety instead of incentivizing incident reduction (which can lead to reporting avoidance). Daily kudos and safety celebrations can help reinforce positive safety behaviors.
This idea is strongly connected to the first two points and the key is to build trust and establish free-flowing dialogue. Employees must feel comfortable talking about safety issues and leaders need to respond to concerns in an open and non-defensive manner.
Make It Easy
Humans like things that are easy! We gravitate towards activities that benefit us while minimizing the energy output required. As a result, when it comes to day-to-day priorities and the quest for productivity, managing safety risks often take a backseat.
It’s crucial that safety is easy: Easy to understand messaging presented in an easily digested format through a frictionless and accessible channel.
Digital tools can be a great asset in simplifying safety communication. Many organizations use mobile safety apps for tasks like incident reporting; emergency alerting and response; and on-going situational awareness.
SolusGuard was built specifically to help organizations stay connected to their people who work alone. We provide the easiest way to signal for help; manage check ins; improve situational awareness through real-time monitoring; stay connected with mobile-based team communication; and automate digital record keeping.