Understanding the Connection Between Productivity and Safety
Love them or hate them; safety regulations are here to stay. There is mounting evidence to show the connection between worker productivity and safety programs. Safety programs decrease sick leave/pay, and compensation claims. It also increases employee turnover and decreases absenteeism. According to safety experts Dexters, obvious benefit is that employees work their best when healthy, but it also boosts their motivation.
For example, the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment in New Zealand has shown the connection between productivity and safety. The material handling sector has seen productivity increase 85% and a cost-benefit ratio of 1 to 10.
Keeping the work environment safe and healthy increases productivity, reduces sick pay costs and injury costs, and reduces production delays. This generally means more profits and a better level of cooperation between employees and management. Employees feel better about management when they feel that management is looking out for their best interests.
Encourage Safe Behavior
Of course there is a difference between telling employees to be safer, and actually enforcing safety precautions. Sometimes it is inconvenient and time-consuming for employees to follow safety procedures, so it’s important to get employees to stick to the plan while still having managers breathing down their necks about meeting quotas on time. Employees may feel they have to cut corners in order to get everything done on time. Managers should be realistic about their targets to allow for employees to follow proper safety procedures. Safety works on every level.
Managers should try to balance the incentives with the expected outcome, which typically involves boosting productivity while still focusing on safety. There are a few ways to do this, such as gift cards, cash rewards, and employee-of-the-month plaques. Unfortunately employees may be tempted to cover up hazards to meet requirements and get their hands on the rewards. This reduces the peer pressure of having to report incidents and leads to even worse safety standards.
The main way to promote workplace safety programs and encourage employees to follow them is through education. Focus on the benefits of positive employee behavior without focusing on rewards. There are several steps in this education process including training employees. Employee training is the main way to teach employees how to avoid accidents and incidents.
How often an employer educates employees about safety depends on the employer. While training can be done as often or as little as an employer wishes, it’s best to train them at least once each month. When an employee isn’t trained often enough, it leads to complacency. Employees will be extra safe following training, but this quickly fades as they get complacent. If an employee isn’t regularly trained and educated it can lead to accidents.
As you can no doubt see, there is a clear connection to keeping a workplace safe and increasing productivity. Healthy employees are happy employees, and happy employees are productive employees. Safety increases profits by increasing sales and decreasing costs of injury claims. All in all, workplace safety is best for all involved.