Don’t Overlook the Importance of a Workplace Safety Program
Take a few seconds to think about the safety in your workplace. What are the first few words that come to mind? Hopefully words such as: secure, protected, prepared and confident come to mind. But if you’re like 50% of surveyed employees, words such as: unsafe, insecure, nervous, and unprepared might come to mind.
We definitely hope you’re in the first group and feel safe at work and are confident in your ability and knowledge of what to do in the event of a natural disaster or threat. But, the reality for so many is that you have no idea how your business or management team will react in the event of a natural disaster (tornado, flood, fire) or threat (shooting, power outage, bomb threat).
And if you’re on the management team: do you have an office emergency plan, corporate safety programs or business continuity plan? It’s likely time to sit down and really think about how you and your team will respond and behave should a natural disaster or threat occur in your workplace.
We urge you not to brush aside the importance of workplace safety programs and business continuity plans and the benefits they have for your employees. Think of this:
- Employees who feel their workplace is not safe, are more likely to call in sick or not come in to the office when there are weather-related interruptions.
- For office workers, natural disasters and storms are the biggest workplace concerns.
- 1 in 4 employees say their companies only communicate what to expect in emergencies at the last minute.
- Employees need to know that they have job security and that in the event of a disaster, their jobs are not at risk.
These four bullets highlight why it is so vital for management and executive teams to ensure that all employees believe and know that their place of work is safe and secure. This means, for management and executives that:
- There is a disaster recovery plan in place. This disaster recovery plan must be communicated and shared with all employees. This gives employees the confidence that they will have a workplace and job to return to.
- Employees need to know what to do in the event of a natural disaster such as a hurricane, snowstorm, tornado, etc. Are employees expected to still come into work? What will happen if employees don’t come into the office? Job security is a huge issue at all times, but even more so during a disaster or business interruption - how will you reassure your staff that jobs are secure and for the long-term?
- Human resource personnel must be equipped to answer questions from employees regarding workplace safety. Be ready to discuss the office emergency plan in-depth and demonstrate to employees how they are safe and protected.
This really all comes down to a few known and respected keys of successful management: communication, communication, and communication. Employees need to feel comfortable in communicating with you when they don’t think the workplace is safe (don’t forget that some employees may feel their jobs are at risk if they bring up these issues - make sure you’ve got an open workplace and encourage such discussions). Management needs to openly communicate the office emergency plan and business continuity plan and address all employee safety concerns.
Workplace safety has business continuity/disaster recovery ramifications, human resources ramifications, job security ramifications, and productivity ramifications.
So now, think back to those words that came to mind when you thought about safety in your workplace. Be honest. Write down these words. If you’re an employee, take the initiative and talk to your manager or human resources personnel about your thoughts on how safe your workplace really is. If you’re a manager or human resources personnel, talk to others and be ready to take proactive action to ensure that both you and your employees feel safe and secure at work.
Remember, a safe workplace is a happy workplace. A happy workplace is a productive workplace. A productive workplace is a successful workplace. A successful workplace is a prepared workplace.
*Check out our infographic to learn more about these statistics and their sources.