More Visible Safety Leadership: Adapting For The Future

Benchmark Results

How do senior leaders ensure staff retention and maintain a safe and mentally healthy working environment for your organisation?

Measure, Focus, and Act

The Health and Safety Index is an online assessment that enables organisations to measure, focus and act on improvements that matter. It evaluates leadership based on relevant sample sizes and feedback from participants observed about leadership behaviours within their teams and the broader organisation. Results are aggregated to provide statistical reliability of leadership performance.

The following four aspects are evaluated in an integrated way to understand their interdependencies and levers for action by the organisation:

  1. Leadership
  2. Engagement
  3. Systems
  4. Health and wellbeing

These aspects are mapped against specific leadership behaviours to better understand how to enable a high-performance culture.

Do the following highlighted trends represent the new workplace norm, or do safety leaders need to potentially adapt to the new ways of working?

Benchmark Data Highlights

We explored our Health and Safety Index benchmark data and found a shift in leadership behaviour in in the previous 12-months:

Low levels of performance in ‘Visible Senior Leadership’

The lowest Health and Safety Index Leadership result was by far ‘Visible Senior Management’ at 51%. This is a common challenge for many organisations for senior managers to be visible and have effective safety conversations. As a result of the pandemic, many leaders had to lead independently rather than being normally seen out on the field or on the shop floor.

Reduction of ‘Active Participation’ in Health and Safety 

The largest decrease in benchmark results was ‘Active Participation’ with a decline of -0.5%. Overall, leadership results improved, with supervisors finding workable solutions recording the biggest improvement at 5.7%. When faced with adversity, managers and teams often bond together to find solutions.

Mismatch Between Frontline Operations and Senior Management

In the Health and Safety Index benchmark data, FEFO Consulting has learned that there is a clear gap related to senior management visibility. Average frontline operations reported 47% versus 59% for senior management, showing a 12% difference. This reinforces the opportunity for senior management to be more responsive, be more engaging to understand operational feedback and needs, show empathy to how their workforce is feeling, and be able to demonstrate the proper response to their observations and feedback.

So, what can you do?

Tips for Improvement and Director Due Diligence Considerations

Care and Concern

Starting with care and concern is a great way to build trust. This may include a combination of demonstrating the following traits:

  • Vulnerability: being honest, open and sharing personal stories, stepping out of comfort zones, admitting individual weaknesses and opportunities to improve.
  • Authenticity: actively listening to your teams — listening, taking in the feedback and not waiting to have your turn to speak. Working alongside the operations teams in a genuine and collaborative way, being true to yourself as a leader.
  • Integrity: doing the right thing, aligning with the values of the organisation even when it is those tough conversations.

Due Diligence

By default, if senior leaders are being visible, actively involved, learning and responding, there is a good chance director and officer WHS legal obligations are also being fulfilled. Demonstrating due diligence as a senior leader cannot be underestimated and taken for granted. WHS and heavy national heavy vehicle laws (NHVL) due diligence obligations of officers are aligned. To go beyond basic legal compliance, consider the capabilities needed to enable effective leadership.

  1. Acquire health & safety knowledge. Build a growth mindset by harnessing the collective intelligence and experience of diverse teams. Look externally and benchmark leading practices.
  2. Understand the nature of operations, hazards and risks. Seek to understand and actively listen. Consciously build deeper and more trusting relationships during interactions.
  3. Ensure appropriate resources and processes. Know how and when to leverage resources. Consider cross-functional work groups, support functions and business process outsourcing (BPO).
  4. Receive and consider information and respond in a timely way. Have a leader narrative for use in their day-to-day communication. Have great, connecting conversations about the things that matter.
  5. Implement processes for compliance. Go beyond basic compliance and feel energised by connecting personal and professional purpose to objectives of the organisation.
  6. Verify resources and processes for (1)–(5). Know how to put all of this to use during the day-to-day, and consciously shape culture through actions, a thriving work environment, rituals and behaviours.

Ultimately, results from the Health and Safety Index benchmark data validate that senior leaders need to increase visibility and improve on the quality of interactions with their people. Leaders who recognise this and shift their thinking, communication styles and engagement strategies will have teams that have improved mental fitness, feel supported and are retained in the flexible workplaces of 2022 and beyond.

If you feel your organisation needs help in improving visible safety leadership – then get in touch with us today to find out how we can help.

M:  +61 1300 909 649
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