NSC: The Power of Engagement

Speaking to safety professionals at the 94th Annual National Safety Council Congress and Expo in San Diego, human performance expert Jack Groppel asserted that companies and individuals that have succeeded in creating a desirable safety culture did it through “the power of engagement.”

Groppel, who is vice chairman of the Human Performance Institute, pointed out that safety “is more than a social responsibility.”

“It’s about giving heart, mind and soul to the task at hand,” Groppel said.

Through his company, Groppel has built upon his extensive experience in working with professional athletes to develop a program that involves nutrition, exercise and what he calls “spiritual fitness” to enhance the health and wellness of people competing in the world of business. He explained that workers in any type of industry should emulate how athletes consistently train and practice so they can become a “corporate athlete” to protect their health and happiness and continue to perform at high levels.

According to a 2005 Gallup Poll, only 26 percent of U.S. workers were engaged in their work, while 55 percent were not engaged at all. If workers aren’t engaged, they’re not performing to their full potential – and that’s a bad scenario for employers, as disengaged workers tend to miss two and a half times more workdays and also tend to have more sick days than engaged workers, Groppel explained.

Groppel: Disengaged Workers Cause Accidents

Groppel stated that work disengagement comes from a variety of sources, such as poor management, poor working conditions, insufficient recognition or not being given challenging tasks.

He also explained that while many employers and supervisors look at multitasking as a positive work trait, most individuals are unable to focus fully on each task to do the job well – increasing their chances for mistakes and safety errors. Because the main priority for disengaged workers is to complete the workday as quickly as possible, this creates a situation in which workers become careless and cause accidents, Groppel explained.

“When people live in a linear lifestyle, accidents happen and this is because they are not conscious of what they are doing,” he said.

Groppel said that people disengage themselves because they don’t know how to properly manage their energy and choose time over energy when it comes to work management. He suggested that workers expand their energy-management capacity by drawing on four principles that will help them become fully engaged in their work and continue to be safe and healthy in the workplace:

  • Full engagement requires drawing on four separate but related sources of energy -- physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
  • Because energy capacity diminishes with both overuse and under-use, balance energy expenditure with sporadic energy renewal.
  • To build capacity, it is important to push beyond the normal limits, training in the same systematic way elite athletes do.
  • Develop positive energy and safety rituals instead of habits.
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