Supervisor Training Targeted as Key Factor in Managing Workplace Safety

Dec. 17, 2003
The St. Paul Companies are targeting supervisor training as a key factor in managing workplace safety and health.

Teaching managers to be effective supervisors can have an impact on a company's bottom line. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers saw a 20.3 percent increase from the year 2000 in the number of days employees were absent from work due to anxiety, stress and neurotic disorders.

In another study, CCH Inc. found that employers pay an average of $789 per employee annually for unscheduled absenteeism. That study suggested that stress accounts for 12 percent of all unscheduled absenteeism, while another in 2000 by the American Psychological Association said that as many as 25 percent of employees have called in sick or taken a "mental health day" as a result of work stress.

The St. Paul's research agrees. "We've found through our internal research that bad managers are the No. 1 reason why employees report workplace stress and decide to leave their jobs," said Dan Murphy, senior vice president of Risk Control. "To create a workplace culture of respect and safety, managers have to know how to be effective supervisors and how to communicate openly and fairly with their employees. These types of skills don't come automatically, and businesses have a responsibility to provide their managers with proper training and resources.

St. Paul Companies has put together a new CD-ROM and online training series called "Striving for Excellence: Elements of Effective Supervision," which gives businesses a cost-effective and time-saving way to create cultures of safety and achieve high-quality work from their teams and employees. The four-part series helps promote safe and healthy behaviors in the workplace. It is designed to aid supervisors in achieving excellence by:

  • Promoting employee safety;
  • Building productive, healthy teams;
  • Valuing differences among employees; and
  • Treating employees fairly and respectfully.

Elements of Effective Supervision is divided into four training modules: Healthy Teams; Safety & You; Supervisors: Make Your MARC (Motivation, Accountability, Recognition, and Communication); and Valuing Differences. Each training module runs 30-40 minutes and can be completed by supervisors individually at their desktops. Organizations can also choose to present these modules in group settings to allow for facilitated discussion among participants.

"As an insurance company, we're always looking for ways to promote safety and minimize risk in the workplace by fostering healthy working environments," said Dan Murphy, senior vice president of Risk Control. "Managers and line supervisors play a critical role in creating safe and healthy workplaces. In this economy, many supervisors are being asked to take on additional responsibilities but are not given the resources or training they need to do their jobs well."

The training was developed in cooperation with PureSafety, a leading provider of online employee training and risk management solutions, and is available to St. Paul insurance customers, agents and brokers free of charge. For more information, visit the company's Web site,

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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