A disengaged workforce could spell trouble for a company’s bottom line and lead to unsafe behavior on the job.
When employees are not committed or fully vested in a safety culture, they’re not overly concerned with their performance and they are not invested in the future success of the company. This negatively can affect day-to-day operations, inhibit a company’s growth and put workers’ safety at risk.
A Commitment to Growth
In studies conducted by Queens School of Business and the Gallup Organization, disengaged workers have 37 percent higher absenteeism, 49 percent more accidents and 60 percent more errors and defects. Organizations with low employee engagement scores experienced lower productivity, profitability, job growth and share price over time.
Engaged workers fully are committed to their work and the success of the company. They put in more effort, have a higher quality work product, go out of their way to assist others, have fewer accidents and are willing to provide feedback and suggestions on ways to increase efficiencies and improve the work environment.
In contrast, companies with highly-engaged employees are sought after by other workers and, as a result, have seen a 100 percent increase in job applications for current and future job openings, according to the studies.
Engagement Does Not Mean Happiness
Someone might be happy at work, but that does not necessarily mean they are working hard or productively on behalf of the organization. It also does not mean employee satisfaction. A satisfied employee might show up for their daily shift without complaint, but that same “satisfied” employee might not give the extra effort on their own.
Worker engagement is an emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals. Emotional commitment means engaged employees actually care about their work and the success of the company. They don’t work just for their paycheck or next promotion, but work on behalf of the company’s goals.
Employee engagement empowers an organization to create a culture of recognition through all aspects of the business, including safety.
Key Elements of Worker Engagement
Where do you start? Start at the top with a visible, empowering leadership team that provides a strong narrative about where the company is and where it is going. Managers should focus on their employees and give them scope, treat them as individuals and provide them guidance toward future growth.
From there you need to ensure employees have a voice throughout the organization. Engaged employees are central to instilling change, encouraging innovation, ensuring a safe workplace, assisting with conflict resolution and contributing to the overall success of the company.
Key elements of an employee voice include:
- Setting clear guidelines – Workers must know their position and that for which the company is striving.
- Instilling a sense of ownership – Let employees know they are important and you trust them to do the job right every time.
- Investing in employees’ future growth – Companies who invest in continued growth and development of their employees are more successful and retain staff longer.
- Involving employees in the safety program – Conduct safety meetings and create safety committees to involve employees in the safety culture. Also include workers in changes before they occur to allow for open discussion.
- Providing ongoing training for employees – When employees are not properly trained or training has lapsed, they are not being set up for success. It can put their own and others' safety at risk.
- Facilitating two-way communication – Managers and supervisors need to be approachable and allow employees to voice their opinions, concerns and ideas without fear of retaliation.
- Recognizing employees – A simple thank you can go a long way when employees go above and beyond what is expected. Recognition helps to positively reinforce safe behavior and fosters engagement.
- Gaining employee feedback for continuous improvement – There always are ways to change through improved workflow and processes. Engaging employee feedback helps come up with solutions by fostering creativity. Providing employees opportunities to offer feedback will further solidify engagement and safety efforts.
Without active participation by all members of an organization, a safety culture will not evolve and the safety management system will not reach its full potential.
Engaged workers are invested employees, and they will look out for each other and for the company’s best interests. Employee engagement also shows consideration and care for the staff, which is spread through the company, creating a team atmosphere and providing a positive solution to health and safety concerns.