What do you envision when you think of a safe working environment? Workplace safety is a byproduct of the rules and processes put in place by an organization and the general attitude employees have towards them. Companies have learned that once employees ‘buy in’ to workplace culture, they are much more likely to adhere to the rules within it.
Given the competitive nature of organizations, many have been quick to mimic or introduce different methods aimed to improve their employee’s attitudes and job satisfaction. There are no shortages of popular examples, including Google’s napping pods and Yelp serving beer on tap when appropriate. This quickly escalated into a never-ending game of who could one-up each other. Sauna breaks, doggy daycare, no problem!
One area that was often overlooked in these cultural initiatives was a focus on workplace safety. While it isn’t something you would necessarily think of when trying to achieve the desired workplace culture, it is a critical component of overall job satisfaction and employee retention. Sure, it isn’t quite as exciting as a spa day, but fundamentally what the culture craze set out to accomplish could be stripped down into two main categories:
#1 Attracting good talent
#2 Retaining good talent
Workplace safety may not be quite as influential when attracting the right talent, but it is extremely effective in keeping the right talent. Building a culture of safety requires a holistic approach. For example, this often starts with the operations and facilities teams and works its way through the faculty and front office staff. Far too often, safety efforts have become an exercise of quickly checking a box so OSHA doesn’t rain down a hefty fine or, heaven forbid, shut down a facility due to an incident.
The reality is that many district employees become frustrated with the poor quality of their required safety training. However, they often will not voice their concerns. A study done by Antea Group showed that only 55% of employees are willing to point out unsafe practices in their workplace to their supervisors. The majority of individuals would like to be properly informed if they are engaging in unsafe acts and how to optimize workplace safety in the future.
Given these statistics, chances are an old PowerPoint deck or a 400-page manual isn’t going to be an effective tool in teaching someone to drive a forklift. Organizations recognize this as something that needs to be improved, but they have a hard time driving change and managing new safety programs effectively. It can feel daunting to take this on, but much like eating an elephant, you have to tackle it one bite at a time.
One proven effective tool for building a workplace safety culture for the long haul is encouraging and rewarding certifications. With all of the different safety disciplines, OSHA is looking for such as Fall Protection, Electrical Safety, Scissor/Boom Lifts, etc. realize that leveraging external training organizations can often be the best option. From a forklift certification to any other number of professional development (PD) certifications, you can show employees that your organization values their safety and is willing to reward them for it. According to OSHA, “The recommended practices use a proactive approach to managing workplace safety and health.”
Invest in Teachers
With the health and safety of teachers and students in mind, Responsive Learning offers PD courses covering workplace safety in schools such as Bloodborne Pathogens Refresher Training, Slips, Trips, and Falls in Schools, and School Violence Prevention and Intervention just to name a few.
Teachers want to know that their voices are heard and their expertise is valued. What better way to demonstrate this than investing in their professional development and personal growth? Invest in your teachers, and you’ll inspire lifelong leaders.
It may seem like a small step in building a workplace safety culture, but employees notice when organizations are willing to invest in their success and keep them safe. So, in your battle for building a winning culture, don’t worry as much about jeans Fridays or snacks in the breakroom. Instead, start investing in professional development, employee safety certifications, and their overall wellbeing. When you do this, you’ll have the greatest impact on teacher retention and your organization as a whole.