As part of our recent Virtual Safety Summit, we ran a number of mainstage sessions focused on some of the hot button issues in health and safety today.
One of the best received sessions was ‘Driving C-Suite Engagement in Safety’, featuring a panel of experts from across the health and safety spectrum.
This post will bring you through some of the key discussion points from the talk, as well as the result of the polls we ran throughout the talk.
Our Expert panel included:
Main Barriers to safety engagement
- One of the most common challenges in getting the C-Suite involved in safety is the perception that monitoring health and safety is someone else’s responsibility.
- Many BoMs view safety in opposition to productivity. There can be a concern that time spent managing risk diverts resources from production. They find it easier to visualise loss (time/ cost), as opposed to the potential gain of putting effort into risk management.
- The prevailing safety culture hold a lot of sway. If an organisations leadership is only focused on the bottom line or the wrong KPI’s, then that will disseminate down through the ranks. Employees will reflect the behaviour they feel is expected by management. (See 07:27 - 12:58 in the above video)
- How you communicate health and safety to the C-Suite is vital. The primary focus of the individuals that make up your senior management team are all different, and it is up to H&S professionals to understand their priorities. It is not enough just to assume you know what they want.
Communicating safety to the C-Suite
- Traditionally there have been 3 major points in ‘selling’ safety: Legal, Moral and Financial. Another is Reputational, which is becoming increasingly important. With the 2016 update to sentencing guidelines, enforcement is acting as a significant driver for health and safety.
- There are some lessons that can be learned from sales and marketing when it comes to getting senior support for your H&S initiatives. It's important to curate your messaging to the people you will be addressing.
- Format your safety communications in the business language, avoid jargon or overly technical terms unfamiliar to those outside of the H&S profession. Keep your messaging short and sharp. (See 07:48 - 15:11 in the above video)
- Consider how you are addressing your senior management. Are you making use of video? Are reports accompanied by easy to digest graphs? Are you making use of presentations and visuals? Or are you sticking with black type on a white page?
Gaining senior-level support for safety projects
- When being presented with a proposal, most people will have the mentality of ‘what’s in it for me?’. You need to be able to give them a reason to care about your project, something that could be a gain for them or their department.
- Involve stakeholders in a project early. When approaching senior management with a proposal for safety management software, PPE, training courses or the like, be as thorough as possible. Asking for feedback early on will help to foster a sense of ownership.
- If your project involves implementing safety software, make sure you know everything about the product you want to bring on board. Make use of the sales representatives you have been dealing with to ensure you can answer all questions related to the product. (See 02:54 - 05:34 in the above video)
- Try to pre-empt questions from senior management. A CTO may have concerns around security and SSO, HR may have questions relating to LMS. If you know the product you can answer these questions.
- Health and safety has taken on a new prominence following the emergence of COVID-19, and the role of Health and Safety Manager is now of critical importance.
- Safety terms have entered into common parlance, employees have become more concerned with their own safety in the workplace, and this needs to be reflected at senior level.
If you want to view all of the mainstage content from the Virtual Safety Summit, click the link below: