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Last updated: 22.05.20

Time to put safety at the heart of your leadership programmes

Guest Blog Article by Karen J. Hewitt

Research from Josh Bersin and Willis Towers Watson show that traditionally low employee engagement levels have had a boost in recent weeks. Thanks to a global health crisis, organisations are being forced to protect their people, care for them and put their Safety above anything else.

As part of this response, employees have been asked to work from home en masse.  At the same time, they are having to work flexibly around other new responsibilities such as home schooling and caring for vulnerable family and friends who are not able to leave their houses for their own safety.

This sudden shift in working patterns and having to work from home alongside your family brings its own pressures, but the fear and anxiety around the very real threat to our health makes it worse.

There has never been a greater need for people to be cared for, shown empathy and looked after, and organisations are rising to the challenge. Organisations and employees alike are suddenly re-evaluating their long-term priorities and feeling safe has shot right to the top of the list. Feeling safe is something we have all taken massively for granted, and its importance only becomes evident when it is taken away.  Because without Safety, life as we know it is non-existent.

The 'new safety' is now to be found within our homes, and employers are having to trust their people to produce their best work in amongst all these pressures.  And they are! Motivated by a shared global vision of creating a world where everyone is safe to go outside again – unspoken but, without a doubt, uppermost in everyone’s minds – employees are collaborating inside and outside their organisation and great things are happening.

Even under lockdown, the most extreme form of working from home, creativity is booming and the technology and the science to help us find a way out of our crisis is advancin. Employees are engaged like never before, and it’s what happens when we get passionate about something we really care about and that affects us all.  When faced with a common cause, there is no end to our resourcefulness, energy and leadership.

Safety is that common cause.

This is something Safety Leadership specialists have known for some time.

When you put safety at the heart of your organisation, it develops a heart, not only protecting your people, which we now realise are the most important part of our business, but also bringing other wide-ranging benefits.

When Safety is put at the heart of the organisation:

  • Engagement levels rise
  • Trust and confidence in leadership grows
  • Productivity increases
  • And quality improves, because doing things the safe way is always also the right way, avoiding duplication and waste.

    And the greatest benefit of all?

    A culture where everyone feels confident and inspired to act as a leader and contribute not only to the cause, but all other parts of the organisation. A culture where people  always do the right thing, and are prepared to challenge those who don’t, no matter which part of the organisation they work in, and no matter where they sit in the hierarchy.

    Safety can do wonders for leadership and your organisational culture.

    Safety teaches people to lead in a transformational way.

    As I always say:  if you can lead safety, you can lead anything.

    Is it time to put safety at the heart of your leadership programmes?

    Karen J. Hewitt designs and delivers bespoke Engagement, Leadership and Culture Change programmes in the context of Health and Safety.  She is the author of “Employee Confidence – the new rules of Engagement”, finalist in the Leadership category of the Business Book Awards 2019. 

    Virtual College are specialists in the design and delivery of global and multi-lingual e-learning solutions to support behavioural and culture change programmes for Health and Safety.  For more information, please email hello@virtual-college.co.uk.