Employees—whether they are company leaders or on the front lines of daily operations—wield the power to make or break any EHS initiative you put forward.
Employee engagement is the key to building and bolstering a culture of compliance, health, and safety within your organization. Why? Because employees—whether they are company leaders or on the front lines of daily execution—wield the power to make or break any EHS initiative you put forward.
But in order for employee stakeholders to feel compelled to positively impact workplace health and safety, you need to “sell” employees on EHS benefits and why they should care. Not only does this require you to put your technical prowess aside, but it requires you to think like a marketer and dig deep into the attitudes and behaviors of your employees.
So, what exactly does this look like? How can you be sure that you’re effectively communicating the benefits of a strong EHS culture to your employees and other important stakeholders? Is your messaging resonating, or is it falling on deaf ears?
Take a cue from a savvy marketer’s playbook (and your friendly neighborhood EHS consulting firm) to build the right communications plan to set you up for success, as well as help ensure your messaging resonates with employees at every level of your organization.
Position EHS as a Benefit, Not an Obligation
First and foremost, your messaging should remind employees of the benefits a safety and compliance program provides. You know the value of EHS, but why should your employees and leadership team care? What’s in it for them?
For your in-the-trenches-employee, personal and professional satisfaction are key benefits you may want to highlight. When employees are healthy and safe at work, they’ll feel more comfortable and be more productive. When it comes to the leadership team, you can show that successful EHS programs help protect the business from expensive fines or workers’ compensation claims, protecting the company’s bottom line and reputation.
Add Context Around EHS in Employees’ Everyday Lives
It’s possible your employees are uninterested in EHS because they don’t understand its relevance to their daily lives. Now it’s time to position it in such a way that resonates with them.
For example, proper ergonomics in the workplace can help improve employee engagement, productivity, and comfort, boosting morale and avoiding expensive workers’ compensation costs. Proper planning for active threat emergencies can help employees feel valued and secure that they are working for an organization that cares for its people, its facilities, and the neighboring communities (as well as feel confident that they are prepared for the unexpected.)
Praise and share the good work being done
The best way to fuel engagement and adoption is by regularly communicating the amazing things your employees are doing every day. Where someone has taken action to mitigate a slip, trip, or fall hazard, or suggest a new wastewater system improvement, establishing a culture of praise and recognition leads to increased productivity and happier employees.
According to Inc., employee recognition is one of the key drivers motivating modern workers. A staggering 78% of employees say they would work harder if they were better recognized, so consider some of the following ways to recognize your employees for their hard work:
- Give an employee a shout-out in a team email.
- Set up a channel in your internal communications platform (e.g. Slack, Chatter, Yammer) where coworkers can give kudos to one another.
- Implement an incentive program to motivate and recognize hard-working employees.
- Encourage executives to share their thoughts on the good work being done.
The more your employees feel like they are valued, instrumental members of the team, the more likely they are to adhere to the various guidelines set in place, including changing EHS regulations.
Put Yourself in the Employees’ Shoes
Creating compelling EHS messaging that engages and resonates with your employees really comes down to understanding your employees’ frustrations and motivators, and then drafting messaging to speak to those frustrations and motivators.
When writing out your communications plan, put yourself in your employees’ shoes. Before you put your pen to paper, ask yourself:
- What would you want to hear about EHS?
- What would make you stop and listen?
- What information would you deem relevant and interesting?
Avoid being condescending. Instead, by understanding your audience, you can create messaging that truly resonates by speaking to them on their level. You’ll certainly need to break things down, but you can find a common thread to make it more impactful, which will make all the difference in the long-term success of your EHS program.
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