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Excerpt from the intregated Transformational Safety® Culture & Leadership Assessment Report.
What does communication look like at Aardvark Cement Products?
Safety Communication continues to be recognized as a core predictor within the cultural journey of any business. An organisation may have all the correct policies, procedures etc. It may have the appropriate corporate values, with safety being a core value. All that being said, if the workforce does not recognize these “values” via the internal communication structures, the effectiveness of the overall safety plan is being compromised. The items within the Communication element of the Transformational Safety® Culture Survey aim to provide a balanced appreciation of the workforces’ acknowledgement of the quality of the safety communication within the workplace.
Aardvark Cement Products’s response profile shows an organisation that has a range of communications that the workforce generally recognizes as “working”. To a large degree it is acknowledged that when it comes to safety, there is pretty much an “open door” policy and that safety communication is reasonable. There was a significant level of uncertainty about these factors; although the level of complete disagreement was relatively small.
The level of “praise” or “recognition” for safe work practices is felt to be quite low, with half the workforce suggesting they do not receive any real recognition.
It was also felt by many employees, that supervisors did not always inform them about what was going on around the organisation.
When we explore the data slicing we find that Employees/Non Supervision and First Line Supervisors are in agreement with respect of praise/ recognition. Almost 50% report a clear lack of praise; when you factor in the “undecided” the observation becomes more powerful.
Within traditional behavioural research we know, with some certainty, that positive reinforcement (which may take the form of praise) has far greater long term impact than the alternative. As we move higher up the organisational tree there is less certainty. It is interesting to observe that almost all employment levels “disagree” to the same proportions. The evident difference is the view expressed by the Senior Management which is almost of an opposing view to the general workforce. Senior management appear to recognize the value of “praise”, and report actually being in receipt of some, although this would not appear to be titrating down to other levels within the organisation. This is a significant observation.
If we take a look at the same item from a different perspective, i.e. specific work areas within Aardvark Cement Products, we can see that the identified trend somewhat continues. The operational employees show that half their number do not feel they receive any real recognition for working safely. This result is reflected also by administrative staff. The key difference is the level of uncertainty demonstrated. Almost one third of operational staff, on the other hand, do report feeling a degree of praise for working safely, whilst approximately half of administrative staff feel there is some valid recognition. This shows that there is a clear distinctions between views amongst administrative staff; with very little uncertainty of opinion. Having made that observation. there are clear indications that the question of “praise”, and more generally recognition, is demanding of greater consideration and this thesis shall be further explored.
Click on the title page above to access a genuine Integrated Safety Culture Assessment Report. It has obviously been debadged to protect the innocent.
Thirty two years since Bhopal, thirty years since Chernobyl, twenty eight since Piper Alpha and what have we learned?
Not much. After all, we have seen Texas City, Macondo, the Soma mine collapse, the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster, and the list just goes on - all in the last ten years or so. Clearly what we have been doing has not been working.
The time has come to take some real responsibility, and put some science back into safety. The time has come to transform your safety culture. The cost of not doing anything shall be further death and injury.