Inspiring Health and Safety Culture

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Would you rather do something because you had to, or do something because you wanted to?

In either case, for most of us, we will be motivated to get the something done. The difference between these two choices, however, will determine how well we get that something done and whether or not we will be motivated to do it again.

These concepts apply directly to our individual approaches to Health and Safety management. As Human Resources professionals we must take on the role of leadership in Health and Safety matters. How we take on that role will determine whether we are able to influence a positive and pro-active Health and Safety culture, or are limited to a compliance based approach that gets things done but goes no further than the minimum requirements. We can take on the health and safety mantle because we ‘have’ to, or we can shape it in order to effect constructive organizational change.

Shawn Galloway, president of  ProAct Safety, is a passionate advocate for Health and Safety organizational leadership. In a recent interview he discusses the difference that leadership style has on the creation of an inspirational health and safety culture that motivates all employees to do better than the minimum requirements.

Click hear to see the interview.

As Mr. Galloway identifies in the clip a ‘command and control’ culture does get results. This approach speaks to the achievement of the minimum as the target or the goal. In other areas of our Human Resources studies, we look at the concept of a ‘threshold’ requirement which is the same as a minimum standard. It is an acceptable standard in some cases, but it does not offer the opportunity to go beyond the minimum into the realm of excellence and inspiration.

How do we proceed when the minimum is not enough and the measure for compliance is a standard that is, simply, too low?

We must take on the challenge of inspirational leadership, especially in the creation of a pro-active safety culture. We can do so by setting high standards. We can do so by constantly looking at ways to inspire and improve personal performance, not only for others engaged in health and safety practices, but for ourselves as well.

After all, aren’t our work lives worth more than just the minimum?

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why are ‘command and control’ systems easy to implement for health and safety standards?
  2. When you think of your own approach to health and safety in the workplace, how are you motivated by the organization to act in a safe manner?
  3. As a Human Resources professional, what steps will you take to ensure that you are perceived as more than a ‘compliance officer’ for Health and Safety?
  4. What skills will you rely on to influence a positive health and safety culture in your workplace?


Planning for Excellence

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Source: Morphart Creation/Shutterstock

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.”

– Lewis Carroll

One of the many fun things that comes from working in Human Resources is trying to pull together the pieces of an organizational puzzle.  It helps tremendously when we can find patterns in the form of ideas or concepts that are applicable and transferable from one area of the Human Resources function to another.

For example, in the video clip below, “Culture Shock with Shawn Galloway”, Mr. Galloway introduces the concept of strategic planning, specifically, in relation to Health and Safety assessments.

Click Here to View the Clip.

While the focus of this clip is on Health and Safety, Mr. Galloway’s comments regarding the concept of excellence as the big-picture goal relate directly to the strategic human resources planning concept of setting an ideal vision for organizational success.

No matter how big or small an organization may be, if there is an over-riding and established standard of excellence, everything that the organization does must be measured and evaluated against that standard.

What excellence in action looks like, and how it is achieved, may vary between departments or organizational business lines, but it should in each case be defined clearly.  When a department or business line starts to waver or lose effectiveness in its activities, the question can be asked, ‘how does this action tie into the strategic standard of excellence?’.  If the answer is that it does not, or that there is no available evidence of activities that support the standard, then it is time to get those actions back on the path of achieving excellence. If the standard does not require adjustments, then the actions needed to achieve that standard, must be changed accordingly.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does excellence look like for you in your current actions as a student?
  2. What does excellence mean for you, as you think about yourself in the role of Human Resources Professional?
  3. What motivates you to achieve a standard of excellence and how do you know once you have achieved that standard?  What types of evidence or indicators do you look for?