Imagine an employer who implements a completely new occupational safety system in their workplace. A complete overhaul is carried out. He or she starts with Hazard assessments; addressing every action and task carried out by his employees. After identifying all potential hazards the employer institutes new protocols and puts employees through new training. Finally, they put together a health and wellness program. The goal of this program is to improve the lifestyles of the employees through diet, exercise, and stress relief. After all of these changes, the employer sits back and lets the new programs do the leg work. New protocols are in place, and safety procedures are enhanced. It all looks good, and the workplace safety should improve. Yet, there is something missing. What is it?
Morale and Motivation
No workplace can function fully without the efforts of the employees; no matter how many new policies, protocols, and programs are implemented. Ultimately, everything funnels down to the drive of the backbone of the workplace. The employer in the example above has put together a workplace that is structured for safety. Now, he needs to spur his employees to use that structure and finish the project. There is a science behind the essence of morale and motivation. Ultimately, a workforce with strong motivation and high morale will be more effective at completing the goals that are before them. This includes the goal of creating a safer workplace.
Morale and the motivation to change are crucial elements in the development of a safe workplace. In order for change to take place, employees must be motivated to make the right decisions. For example, reducing the number of chronic health conditions in the workplace can be done by employee wellness programs. Yet, those programs only work if employees are actively engaged in making decisions that better their health (nutritious food, exercise, no smoking, etc.).
How can you boost Morale and Motivation?
An effective employer will be able to motivate employees, as well as boost workplace morale and motivation when change is needed. How can employers boost morale to inspire change in the realm of occupational safety? The answer lies in proactive participation, and acknowledgement of safety success.
Employers who seek to improve workplace safety need to be proactive in their involvement. They should not only vocalize the changes that are made, but should demonstrate them as well. Leading by example is the best way to motivate one’s peers. For example, an employer who implements an employee wellness program should improve their own diet, exercise regularly, and exhibit the healthy habits they wish to instill in their employees. Employers who ‘lead from the front’ will incite more action from their workers.
Involving employees in all aspects of the process of improving workplace safety is another way to boost morale and motivation. To begin, employers should include employees in planning for new safety programs. Ultimately, giving your employees a voice is the best way to identify their concerns and establish a starting point for improving occupational safety. Additionally, making use of tools like safety scoreboards can be an effective way to include your workforce in the process of promoting a safe workplace.
Finally, employers need to acknowledge when workers contribute to the culture of safety. Rewarding employees for staying safe due to appropriate conduct and proper use of equipment is a great way to reinforce proper behavior. Employees need to be acknowledged for creating and maintaining a safe work environment. If they do not believe they are making a difference, then change will not occur. Employees need to be able to believe that their actions are making a difference in the overall atmosphere and culture of the company.
The bottom line is that employers need to realize change is not brought about through policy and rules. Rather, true, lasting change is inspired and carried by a team-oriented desire to improve conditions within the workplace. Employers play a key role in motivating and boosting the morale of their workforce. This particular portion of the process of improving workplace safety cannot be overlooked.