Speak No Evil: Keeping Silent About Workplace Safety Concerns Thinkstock

Speak No Evil: Keeping Silent About Workplace Safety Concerns

A new survey finds a conflict between what employees claim they value (a safe environment) and what they’re willing to do to get it (speak up about workplace safety concerns).

Antea Group has released the survey results on technology professionals' opinions and knowledge about environment, health and safety and what they say might surprise you. The survey has found a conflict between values and behaviors among employees. Two-thirds of workers say they value a safe, secure workplace, but more than half would not intervene if they saw an unsafe act.

Two-thirds of technology industry professionals value feeling personally safe and secure in the workplace, but nearly the same amount are unaware of the environment, health and safety (EHS) functions in their workplace, according to the new research released June 24.

Antea Group, a leading provider of EHS services, conducted the survey with the goal of better understanding employee attitudes and preferences related to EHS in the technology industry. The study surveyed 500 U.S.-based respondents working in global IT organizations with more than 5,000 employees.

According to the research, there is a disconnect between employees’ understanding of the role EHS plays and how it impacts satisfaction at work.  Only half (55 percent) of employees feel comfortable pointing out potentially unsafe behavior to both their peers and superiors; however a majority (64 percent) would appreciate if they were told they were doing something potentially unsafe. Of particular concern, a large percentage (52 percent) likely would not feel obligated to intervene if they saw an unsafe act and a significant percentage (36 and 38 percent) would not appreciate or actually would be offended if they were told they were doing something potentially unsafe. 

These survey results point to the fact that if employees are not comfortable talking about safety and helping their colleagues be safe in the workplace, it likely will limit the effectiveness of many company safety programs, such as an incident reporting program, injury and illness prevention program and risk assessment program – all critical to companies with 5,000 plus employees to manage.

“These survey results highlight just how important EHS is to the tech workforce and the gaps in creating truly effective programs in this fast-changing industry,” said Peylina Chu, senior consultant and technology segment leader at Antea Group. “By prioritizing the health and safety of their employees, technology companies will not only safeguard their brand, but also retain their most important assets, their people.”

Other findings reveal divisions among gender, age and demographic groups on the importance of feeling safe and secure in the workplace. Across the board, findings show that women value attributes pertaining to EHS more highly than men. For example, women value feeling personally safe and secure in the workplace more so than men (84 percent women vs. 69 percent of men).

Women also find more value than men with regard to the following considerations:

  • More than three-quarters of women value knowing that their company has an emergency response plan to manage any crisis (76 percent women vs. 57 percent men).
  • Women value a company’s ability to respond to workplace violence such as an active shooting scenario significantly higher than men do, with a disparity of 20 percentage points (74 percent women vs. 54 percent men).
  • Women value a company’s ability to provide a safe and secure parking lot (71 percent women vs. 56 percent men).

The research also found interesting insights into preferred working environments:

  • Millennials (18-34) want and expect flexibility in their workstations more so than their older counterparts (55+).
  • 62 percent of employees are likely to use a mobile application for outbound communication (to report an unsafe condition), but are less inclined (only 18 percent) to receive inbound communication (safety information via push notifications) on their mobile device.

“The future of the workforce is increasingly dynamic and employees will continue to demand safe and productive workplace environments,” said Paul Durkee, senior consultant at Antea Group who has helped develop EHS programs for leading technology companies. “If technology companies fail to be sensitive to these demands, especially in the highly competitive market we live in today, they risk losing top employees to companies that make EHS a priority.”

Find out more valuable insights about employees’ perceptions of environment, safety and health – such as controlled access to buildings, workstation preferences and emergency response plans in Antea Group’s EHSxTech Slideshare.

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