Making Safety the Standard

The other week, Hansini Sharma beautifully illustrated how focusing on our employees through “making travel safety the default” and rebuilding a travel culture in a manner that provides comfort for the traveler and subsequently ROI for the organization.  To build upon the central theme of her article, traveler safety and security begins with an organizational culture that prioritizes holistic employee safety.  In other words, employee safety must be a priority regardless of where they are working: the office, the airport, the hotel, or at home.

As 2021 approaches, here are three concepts that organizational leaders can be mindful of to begin the year strong:

1. Increase Communication.

2020 has created considerable uncertainty for many.  One of the things that can significantly contribute to one’s insecurity is the unknown, whether it be job security, violence or unrest in their local communities, the political environment, or of course, the pandemic.  Isolation due to working from home can exacerbate these concerns and they’re threatening the health and safety of employees.  Using intentional and empathetic communication to address these issues directly can help create a feeling of sanctuary, safety, and optimism for employees. It may sound easier than it is, however, a quality place to begin could be assessing how communication is occurring now and determining what will make it better.  It will promote a culture of employee safety and effect a strong start to 2021.

2. Update Safety and Security Policies to Reflect the new Working Environment

The pandemic has shifted a significant amount of the workforce to a home-working environment.  Working from home is not void of risks to employee safety and can increase liability for employers.  Cybersecurity, intimate partner violence, and psychological issues are just a few of the risks that have been highlighted with working from home.  Policies need to address what is expected of employees when working on their own wireless networks. What is the protocol if they were to witness abuse or violence during a virtual meeting, or see someone showing concerning behavior, for example?  Ensuring that safety and security related policies address the working from home environment will help promote an enterprise-wide culture of safety.

3. Provide Requisite Training and Resources

Training is far more than an annual requirement to fulfill certain legislative mandates.  It’s one of the best ways to communicate answers to the specific concerns being voiced by an employee populace, cultural nuances, or policy changes. 

Sometimes a feeling of insecurity or lack of safety is due to not knowing what to do if something bad happens.  Understanding employee concerns and providing requisite resources or education that helps alleviate the stress will pay dividends. 

The closing of this year provides as great of opportunity as any to be intentional with the safety and security of employees.  Taking the time to communicate and address the various challenges, update relevant policies for the new environment, and provide training or resources for employee safety can make a significant difference in how 2021 feels in comparison to 2020 regardless of the location employees are working.

Jake Newton is VP, Security Solutions for CPPS – Center for Personal Protection & Safety