The first half of 2020 was a rollercoaster ride. From learning how to cope and manage COVID-19 in our personal lives and at work, to adapting our safety programs to meet new demands, safety champions across the world have definitely had their hands full. As everyone has been doing all they can to protect their teams, it’s time to take it one step further and think of how we can maximize the second half of 2020.
Over the past six months, we have learned several things which we should carry with us into the future to help optimize our workflow, not only now but always. COVID-19 has transformed the way things are done, so let us take this as an opportunity to evolve.
With these tactics, you should feel prepared and ready to manage whatever may come your way, whether that might be a second wave or a possible recession.
Get ready for a more prosperous 2020!
1. Make Health a Corporate Responsibility
Prior to the development of COVID-19, health was more of a personal responsibility; however, this has evolved. Because of the shift we have faced, organizations have now made health a corporate responsibility to ensure all members of their team are protected. They take the “health” in “health and safety” and transform their safety culture, strengthening not only their team, but their company overall. In order to have a stronger second half of 2020, this needs more attention than ever before.
Everywhere you go, companies in varying industries are requiring employees to wear masks and measures have been taken to help encourage social distancing. Several companies have also begun tracing and testing employees and their family members to see if anyone has tested positive for COVID-19. This information is then logged and kept confidential to help gain a holistic view of the health of employees, in real-time. Ergonomic best practices and stretching exercises on-site have also been implemented at certain organizations to promote positive physical health. The concept of understanding total worker safety is upon us.
Mental health has also come center stage, as more and more individuals have reported increased feelings of anxiety and depression. As your most important asset, it is your job to ensure policies and initiatives are in place to promote positive wellbeing. If you haven’t already, begin introducing meditation or mindfulness sessions to help workers alleviate feelings of stress. If you find these methods do not resonate, ask your team what works for them. It’s important to tailor your exercises to what your team will respond to.
These practices do not have to stop post COVID-19. The wellbeing of your employees should always be your number one priority, so let this be the starting point of a more personalized way of working with team members, keeping their physical and mental health top of mind.
2. Two-Way Communication is Key
A shift in communication and safety leadership has become increasingly evident for a strong business and its growth. It is not only the responsibility of senior leadership members to communicate, but it is an entire team effort to ensure a sustained and prolonged safety record overall, which in turn helps overall company longevity and profit appreciation over time.
Many safety leaders have been doing all they can to create a safe and healthy working environment for their front-line and office workforce, however it is vital they take into consideration suggestions from those very people. Your front-line workforce is out in the field everyday and are facing all risks head-on. Make it a point to get their input of ongoing issues. Management is encouraged to have an open-door policy and take into consideration all issues being raised, making actionable decisions with these different elements in mind.
Essentially, we are talking about a shift in safety culture. It should not only be a top-down approach but a two-way street where all parties are taken into account, working together and not apart.
3. Take a Customized Risk-Based Approach
In order to survive a potential second wave in the fall or winter, it is essential organizations take a customized risk-based approach and go one step further when ensuring safety and compliance. What does this mean? Allow us to dive a little deeper.
Every safety leader follows either Certificate of Recognition (COR) or Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) related standards. When COVID-19 first emerged however, there weren’t clear guidelines to follow. This forced safety champions to figure out what to do on their own and quickly. This has paved the way for a more customized risk-based approach, which is ultimately more sustainable in the long-run as it is tailored to your specific organization and team.
For instance, instead of only checking different elements of the business when there is a report to fill, many have made it a point to carry out daily tracking measures and assess possible risks before they occur. During this pandemic, several companies have begun implementing Respirator Fit Tests, for example, in case they may have to be used at some point. In plans to return to work, many have also started assessing high traffic areas of the office such as meeting rooms, common areas, and bathrooms to plan how they will implement social distancing measures. Need help with your approach? Check out our “Return to Work Guide” with easily customizable templates and industry specific information to help you mitigate risks.
COVID-19 has provided everyone with a reality check that we cannot only take care of things when they are not working or broken, but that we must always be consistent and have a preventive strategy ready to execute.
It is important to not only abide by what legislation is telling us to do, but to also go beyond that in a more forward thinking, proactive approach. To find out more about what companies have been doing to ensure a safe working environment, both on and off-site, take a look at our crowd-sourced Safety Nerd Best Practices.
4. Measure What Goes Right
In addition to assessing all risks and measuring what could possibly go wrong, it is also imperative to measure what goes right. Positive reinforcement is essential when creating a foundation for a strong safety culture.
A strong safety culture is vital to surviving this pandemic and beyond. It is the job of everyone in the company to work together to reinforce best practices and set a good example. Whether this is through daily reinforcement from peers or positive recognition from safety leaders, the entire team must work collectively to help others improve. This will ultimately have a lasting effect on not only everyday processes, but the overall safety culture of the entire organization.
Take the time to give team members words of encouragement, celebrate their usage of proper PPE, and recognize their efforts to close the feedback loop and build a stronger safety culture. Moving past COVID-19 will not happen single-handedly, but it is a team effort that will make all the difference.
5. Be Flexible
2020 has taught us a lot. One of the most important things we can take from this year is to be open and flexible when it comes to change. To truly optimize the second half of this year, consider new avenues and strategies that may not have been on your radar before.
For instance, if you have not received your Certificate of Recognition (COR) or OSHA certification, now is the time to do so to gain access and places bids on different types of contracts and jobs, strengthening your position in 2020. Business longevity and brand reputation are top of mind nowadays as organizations are doing all they can to show efforts of compliance and safety, making them more credible in the market.
With the economy dramatically shifting, be open to pivoting strategies and potentially focusing on different types of projects and bids which may be more economically fruitful. This does not mean you have to change your entire approach, but consider new initiatives that may arise, so your organization is not limited.
All in All…
The first six months of this year have been a learning curve for all of us, as we have had to adjust our sails to meet our new reality. The silver lining to all of this though is that the tactics and strategies built now will pave the way for a safer and stronger organization, oozing resilience and growth in the future.
We’re on a mission to help you get there! Need more help planning your strategy? Check out our Return to Work Essentials.