How do you ensure your safety culture grows alongside your expanding workforce? How do you ensure all your new hires are welcomed into “the right” culture?
You build your culture the right way from the very start. Build it once and build it right.
When I started with Spark Power in November 2017, we started with about 400 people. By the end of this year, we’re expecting to be around the 800-900 employee mark. With such aggressive growth, the development of our safety culture is essential.
We’re not looking to be a “compliance company” that meets the minimum standards. We are trying to take ourselves to the next level – to be innovators of a leading-edge safety program.
Here’s how we’re doing it.
Bridging Generational Gaps
Like any expanding company, we’re seeing a large influx of young, millennial-aged employees. We also have some employees in their 60s, who have been doing their jobs for decades.
How do you bring these two groups together?
On the front-line, younger employees often take cues from their older and more experienced coworkers. But at the top level, my safety team is young (2 out of 3 are millennial-aged), and they are paving the way.
We’ve got branch managers who have been in their trade for 35 years or more. We have lineman who are set in their ways. They are the pinoeers of the electrical industry. Our young safety team is showing them:
● What needs to be done
● How to do it
● How to work through this system
● How to make sure it’s done appropriately and in a timely manner
The feedback I’ve received so far has been nothing but positive.
Teaching New Tech to the Old School
We rolled out eCompliance company-wide, which put our safety activities on smartphones. The biggest buy-in tool we use is telling people in the field, “If you do this on your phone, you don’t have to touch a piece of paper.”
And they’re like, “Awesome. We’ve needed something like this for a long time.”
Many of our older employees may not be familiar with something as simple as just checking their email. So, because of this, we see a lot of our young employees on the front-lines helping their older coworkers and answering any questions.
We’ve also seen it work the other way around. We’ve had people in their 50s turn around to their young colleagues and say, “What? You don’t have Google Play yet? Why don’t you have the Play Store on your phone?”
It’s the cohesiveness of the team and the willingness to integrate and work with each other that makes sure the system works.
Safety Starts at the Top
Leadership plays a huge part within our program. At Spark, our executives and management lead by example.
They drive employee engagement for safety within the organization. This is clearly identified in every aspect as safety is always at the forefront – it trickles down from our Chief Operating Officer who says “Safety is a non-starter. If something can’t be done safely, the project stops.”
Recruiting and Onboarding with Safety in Mind
It’s all about making sure the people you have in place are the right people, for the right position. This is key. And again, it starts at the top.
This is why we’re very specific in our recruiting process for our safety staff.
Did I look for seasoned safety experts? Not necessarily. In some cases, I overlook things like experience to get the right individual who has the skills to gain the experience to do a specific task.
I would much rather spend the time developing an employee and working through their career development process in order for them to succeed. Because the company is growing, there’s going to be opportunities for them. If you communicate those opportunities to them, they will stick around.
Safety is also a factor when hiring for the front-line. We take training certifications into account. Many of them are transferable. They’re not specific for just one organization.
Build it Once. Build it Right
We’re building our culture from the ground up, the right way. Take COR (Certificate of Recognition) for example.
As we’re a relatively young organization, we’re expanding and developing our health and safety program (all of our policies and processes) in conjunction with COR. We’re creating a program from scratch to match COR, not just in Ontario, but across the country.
Again, we’re not just looking to be compliant with COR, we’re looking to set the industry standard. The best safety cultures aren’t just compliant and doing the minimum. They’re always looking for new ways to do better.
And no matter the sector, the bottom line is always making sure people go home safe every single day.
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