As an environment, health, and safety (EHS) consulting firm, companies all around the world bring us in to provide unbiased expertise on how to launch, improve, or manage EHS programs. And that makes us the “The Bobs” of the EHS consulting realm.
Oh, you didn’t get the memo? When we say, “The Bobs,” we’re referring to Bob Slydell and Bob Porter—the witty “efficiency experts” at the center of workplace drama in the cult classic film, Office Space.
Not long ago, with the help of The Bobs and other iconic characters from the film, we explored five signs that it may be time to bring in our EHS consulting Bobs. Today, we zero in on one of the film’s essential plot points: Lack of employee engagement.
Employee engagement is paramount to the success of any EHS program. Employees need to understand the importance of EHS and how they can play a meaningful role—and that’s where The Bobs may have a little insight.
Below are a handful of employee engagement lessons that will leave you saying, “Mmmkay, great.”
Lessons in Employee Engagement Courtesy of The Bobs
1. Get a feel for who your employees are
For most of the flick, Slydell and Porter are holed up in a conference room, conducting one-on-one interviews with employees to “get a feel” for what their typical work day looks like. Why? Because The Bobs know they need a deep understanding of who employees are and how they work in order to drive results.
Look no further than The Bobs’ interview with our main character, Peter Gibbons. When asked to indulge them in the details of his noticeably relaxed work ethic, Peter candidly says: “It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care. ...It’s a problem of motivation.”
EHS leaders should take note here. Your employees hold the key to unlocking the full potential of your EHS programs, but they need the right motivation and insight to take part. When you take the time to understand their points of view, attitudes, and motivators, you can craft a communication and engagement strategy to get buy-in and inspire action.
2. Combine stakeholder insights with data to fix EHS glitches
The Bobs aren’t just tasked with exhaustive interviews. No, no, no—they also spend an immense amount of time pouring over financials, production, and employee records to develop a robust, accurate picture of operations.
With qualitative and quantitative insights in hand, they’re able to make recommendations that not only help ensure the stability of the organization, but also the happiness of (remaining) employees. And they also take action, fixing a “glitch” that was holding the organization back. (Sorry, Milton.)
The takeaway for EHS leaders? Leverage data such as incident reports and near misses to understand common health and safety risk points, as well as extrapolate other risks. Then review the insights you’ve gathered from employees to prioritize opportunities for improvement and create messaging that will resonate.
3. Make it easy and fun for employees to contribute to a culture of EHS
When Peter tells The Bobs that he lacks the motivation to go the extra mile at work, Slydell digs deeper to uncover what incentives or activities may turn the tide.
“What if—and believe me this is a hypothetical,” he begins. “But what if you were offered some kind of a stock option, equity sharing program. Would that do anything for you?”
In true Peter fashion, he loosely responds: “I guess.”
While the proposed incentives (or anything for that matter) aren’t particularly exciting to Peter, the point here is that Slydell is making a calculated effort to understand what will make it easy and beneficial for employees to do their best work.
When it comes to EHS, you should specifically ask employees and other stakeholders how they would like to be involved and what’s most important to them. Then use what you learn to make it easy and fun to participate. For example, gamification can be an effective engagement tool. Gamification can be as simple as offering a virtual or real “badge” or “trophy” for meeting an EHS milestone.
4. Identify and empower your straight-shooting EHS champions
After an intense research and review process, The Bobs bring in executives Bill Lumbergh and Dom Portwood to discuss recommendations and next steps. Of course, one of those next steps is to promote straight-shooter Peter Gibbons, who has “upper management written all over him.”
While Lumbergh kind-of-sort-of disagrees with The Bobs’ assessment, Porter handles the situation by defending Peter and providing insights gained throughout the employee engagement and research process to bolster the recommendation. Collectively, The Bobs agree that Peter needs to be challenged; he needs to be empowered, and he needs recognition for his contributions and potential.
As it relates to EHS, a great way to foster engagement around your initiatives is to identify high-flying, respected employees who can serve as ambassadors. These people can lead by example and get others on-board.
In addition, you should look for opportunities to praise the efforts of your ambassadors and the larger team. Positive feedback is a mainstay of high-performing teams. By recognizing employee participation, you’ll not only show your appreciation, but also create a strong foundation for ongoing engagement.
Get Your Employees to Celebrate Your Entire EHS Catalogue
Employee engagement is critical to the success of any EHS program or initiative. After all, employees are in the trenches every day. Involving them in the process can lend you detailed, first-hand insights to fuel effective communications, ongoing engagement, and results.
So, take these terrific lessons from The Bobs to heart and, hopefully, things will work themselves out naturally. But if they don’t, you can always call in our health and safety Bobs, who always wear more than the minimum requirement of flair on their sleeves.
Is it time to call in our EHS consulting Bobs? If you’re experiencing any of these five hypothetical situations, you’ve gotten the memo.
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