Employers are often looking for solutions to improve employee productivity. Employee productivity is a driver of competitiveness and profitability.
What employers often fail to realize is that employee safety often equates to employees who are engaged and productive. There was a study by Lockheed Martin performed at a plant in Paducah. The study found by developing a culture of safety, factor costs declined by 20%, and employee productivity went up by 24%.
With a culture of safety, errors leading to accidents went down.
Employers may not fully grasp the concept that stress can interfere with your ability to perform at work. A high-stress environment isn't going to lend itself to optimized productivity levels.
Nor is a workplace where employees don't feel happy overall.
The following are things to know about the links between employee safety and productivity.
A Safe Workplace Can Reduce Lost Work Hours
When it comes to boosting productivity in your business, the objective is to reduce downtime. Your employees need to be at work and functioning well to maintain productivity.
If your employees are injured or sick, then you're going to lose productivity.
We can think about this in terms of getting hurt at work, which is especially common in industrial occupations.
However, there's something else to consider as far as safety and downtime right now, which is COVID-19.
If you're not taking steps to protect your employees, then they're more likely to get sick. They may have to quarantine for 14 days, and each time that happens in your business you're losing production time.
Keeping employees safe and implementing the proper policies and protocols can be an initial upfront investment, but over time it's likely to save you significant amounts of money, both in terms of direct and indirect costs.
When you have a culture of safety, it's going to improve engagement, and engagement then feeds into productivity. Employees need to know how to do their job properly, and when they feel empowered and confident, they're more engaged.
Employees need to know where to turn when they have questions, and they need to feel like they're working in an organized environment.
Plus, employees who feel you take their safety seriously are more likely to remain dedicated to their employer and more accountable.
How to Improve Workplace Safety
The following are things you can do in your business to boost safety and, in turn, productivity and engagement.
Follow National Guidelines
You always want to be compliant with national guidelines. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a good starting point. OSHA has guidelines for specific industries, and they also have COVID-19 guidance.
While policies and procedures should be the foundation of your employee safety strategy, these are useless if your employees don't know what these are or how to implement them.
Employee training will help maintain safety in the workplace, and it will also help you cultivate a culture of safety.
You want employees to see that you value safety as a top priority, and regular training will allow for that.
There are usually stages in workplace safety, so understanding this will help you gauge how well your program is going.
First, there's the adoption stage. This is when you, as the business owner or leader have started to take on a mindset driven by safety.
It's only after that happens that you can gain engagement, which is when safety is an ingrained part of your culture.
As you can see, you're the one driving the move toward a culture of safety, so don't forget that important point.
Your safety program should include training at periodic intervals, as well as practice drills.
Identify Hazards and Then Eliminate Them
Do regular assessments and audits of your workplace to identify potential safety hazards. Then, once you've identified those hazards, eliminate them. If they can't be eliminated, ensure proper signage is in place warning employees.
If you aren't sure what hazards exist, or you worry you missed some, you can work with an occupational clinician. An occupational clinician is someone who can evaluate your premises and identify possible safety hazards.
Their services can also be used to create protocols for evaluation and to improve ergonomic conditions.
Give Your Employees the Tools They Need
Regardless of your industry, ensure your employees have access to the tools they need to do their job well.
This could include physical tools, but can also include technology-based tools.
Promote Health and Wellness
Employees who are generally healthy will be less likely to get injured at work, more able to engage with their job, and happier.
You can help promote health and wellness among your employees in different ways.
For example, you can have a formalized wellness program, or you can do things that are less formalized and just for fun.
You might get an inexpensive step tracker for every employee and turn it into a friendly competition. Maybe you have regular wellness events, or perhaps you incentivize employees for showcasing healthy habits.
Don't Encourage Behaviors That Could Be Unsafe
There's a tendency to praise and reward employees who are getting the work done, but sometimes the means they're using means to achieve that could lead to safety risks.
For example, if your employees are working hours that are too long to finish a project or meet a tight deadline, this will be counterproductive and perhaps hazardous. Employees may be working when they're fatigued, and that's putting them and the people around them at risk.
Speeding through certain processes to meet goals is another way employees could be engaging in unsafe work practices.
Having a culture of safety, accountability, and then ultimately, productivity starts at the top, meaning they start with you. If you show that you value a safe environment, and you take the steps to promote that, your employees are more likely to follow suit and strive to keep things safe and productive at the same time.