This week, we welcome Brittni Brown as a guest writer for the AIM Careerlink Blog. Brittni is currently a Masters candidate in the Natural Resources department at the University of Idaho, and is passionate about the subject of workplace safety and culture. Take a look below for her tips on how to take your business’s on boarding training from dull to engaging.
For many of us, occupational safety and procedures are a critical part of new employee training. Depending on the position, it may be something that is brushed over lightly as one more mandatory subject to cover; or it might be the greater portion of training in general. If the former is true, safety training may never be reviewed again after the employee handbook is put away and real employment begins.
How seriously employees take occupational safety training may be a result of the culture the company creates. New team members are especially susceptible to the attitudes from their managers, trainers and co-workers; and if hazards training is something everyone rolls their eyes and makes crude jokes about, it won’t be taken seriously by the next generation of employees either.
How company culture impacts workplace safety
Company culture sets the standards for how employees interact with each other. This, in turn, affects workplace behavior. For instance, research from Rutgers University suggests that a higher number of unanticipated work interruptions increases employee stress and lowers productivity. If influential individuals don’t take safety policy seriously, this can trickle down and create an unsafe workplace.
The majority of workplaces tend to have an employee that is just too good for the limiting rules brought about by safety regulations. He or she is the type of person that always takes things a step too far, and tends to bend the rules at the risk of themselves or others. Sometimes it is to shorten the task completion time, other times it is to show off. Regardless, this employee is toxic to the workplace environment.
Should said employee have any level of influence within the company, chances are they are playing a harmful role in devolving the company’s culture towards a more dangerous status quo. Human resource representatives and other managing officials need to take special precaution to make sure every employee is taking health and safety procedures seriously.
If shortcuts continue, and the seriousness of health risks are continuously underestimated, it could be time to let that employee go. These types of employees are actually a cost to the company both directly through potential injuries, and indirectly through their undermining of workplace standards.
Dealing with toxic hotshots appropriately is the first step to altering company culture and promoting safety as a workplace priority. It is important to ensure managers are sending the right signals about health hazards in the workplace; and that they strive to uphold safety standards as well as remain approachable to employees whom have concerns.
How to make training worthwhile
New employees should be integrated into the culture of safety on their very first day of training. Although, occupational safety talks do not have to be incredibly dull, they need to be delivered seriously and not as a ‘we have to get through this’ presentation. Trainers need to be knowledgeable on the topic, ensure new individuals have all necessary procedure information and make sure questions are answered.
Determining just how to make training less boring and more informative can be extremely difficult for companies to manage. Often times it takes a certain level of creativity and interaction with the group. Posing theoretical questions can also make the learning experience more worthwhile.
Furthermore, breaking into groups and participating in interactive scenarios (when appropriate) is a great way to build employee relationships and situational know-how. The key to making presentations both serious and memorable is to find ways to engage the audience in a positive manner.
Company cultures that don’t place high value on the safety of the work environment are a hazard to both employees and the well-being of the company. Although creating a unique and fun work culture helps achieve employee happiness, you need to keep company safety standards in mind. Integrating occupational safety into the values of the business will build morale, keep individuals safe and benefit the company in the long run.