“Leadership driven” goes beyond showing interest in a safety initiative. It means that company leadership is actively educating and communicating. This is critical because if employees don’t see a continued interest in this initiative, they will lose interest themselves. They can easily interpret the lack of communication as a loss of interest at the leadership level. Every company wants to lower their workers’ compensation costs, and developing a company-wide wellness and safety program is a very effective way to do this.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducted a meta-analysis of 15 studies on the impact of workplace wellness and safety programs. They found that such programs produced a number of positive outcomes which benefited both employees and organizations, such as reduced absenteeism and sick days, positive ROI, increased productivity, and fewer accidents. In addition, the study saw companies considerably reduce their workers’ compensation costs.
Many well-meaning business owners create a wellness and safety program but don’t give it the attention it needs, and as a result, it doesn’t create the desired objectives, such as reducing worker’s compensation costs.
A NIOSH program is, at its core, an investment in your employees. It’s ultimately about creating a caring and wellness-focused culture. A caring workplace environment focused on employee well-being and safety protects your staff and saves you money, making it a win-win for workers and leaders alike.
As with any new program, your employees need to buy into it in order for it to work the way it is intended. Your employees will not be on board with this new wellness and safety program unless they feel it is important to the leadership team. This entire initiative needs to be leadership driven. After all, if the boss doesn’t care, why should they? If your employees see that you are truly interested in the success of this project, most will follow suit.
Creating this program can’t just be about saving money on workers’ comp insurance. Instead, it should be presented and run as an employee wellness and safety initiative. Great companies care about the well-being of their employees and they prioritize creating and maintaining safe work environments. As a result, their employees feel taken care of and are more likely to remain loyal to the company. Well-run companies have fewer workers’ comp claims and recurring losses.
How can you make your wellness and safety program more leadership driven?
The term “leadership driven” reaches far beyond the boss. It means that all key VPs, managers, and supervisors are on board and understand the initiative just as well as the boss does.
So what do you need to communicate to your employees exactly? Company leadership needs to know at least these three things, and communicate them to employees so they know what is happening:
1. Where did we fail in the past regarding health, wellness and safety?
2. What are the best tools to apply and who can provide them?
3. What is the specific plan for their company and who is responsible for making that happen?
A strong communication system requires the involvement and buy-in of top-level management because employees must feel comfortable reporting injuries without the fear of retaliation. If you are implementing a new program, set up a training session with employees so you can educate them on these issues and answer all of their questions. Make it clear that your company cares about their safety, and encourage them to report any and all injuries without the fear of retaliation.
Typically, this educational material can come from three sources:
1. Company internal processes and procedures
2. A 3rd party service provider offered by your insurance broker
3. Insurance company services
This is not a one-and-done training; communication should be ongoing and thorough. Some ways to continue the dialogue are to simply communicate successes with your team, including loss-free periods, new procedures that are working, positive feedback you get from safety vendors, and even changes in the way your insurance company classifies the business. Let your employees know that these wins are a result of their efforts so they know the initiative is working.
Leadership can also support and encourage employee initiatives. This could include a safety committee run by employees or celebrations for having extended periods of being injury-free. The leadership team could reward employees by providing lunch or raffling off gift cards. These are very simple actions that any leadership team can implement with the goal to better educate and encourage employees and get positive results from the NIOSH program. All of these actions are win-wins and benefit both the business and the employees.
Taking a leadership driven approach to reducing your workers’ compensation costs can have a positive impact in various areas of your business, and this approach has a fantastic return on investment.