Health and safety is an ever-changing sphere. As employers, you can sometimes feel like you’re wading your way through a sticky swamp, not sure where to go. You finally discover a good path to take, only to find yourself four feet deep in another mess. Ten years ago, the answer was simple. You hired yourself an expensive consultant who performed a GAP analysis on your program, provided you with 50 customized policies, a bunch of SOPS, perhaps some training modules, and off you went on your merry way. It probably ended up sitting in a binder collecting dust, but on paper you were compliant. If an inspector showed up, you’d dig out the binder and you were good. Not today. What is the point of making the employer “compliant” when you don’t get the buy-in from the worker?
We’re all well-versed in the logic that a successful program has to work from the top-down; meaning you have to have the corporate buy-in and then entrench it in your workers. But what if that is the wrong way of thinking?
Recently, I was sitting and having coffee with a friend. They were talking about a recent “educator” posting that was made available in their workplace. They were thinking of applying but saw that a key role in the position was writing policy, and they had absolutely no interest in doing that. How could they possibly write policy when they weren’t on the floor practicing the skills? How could they tell someone how to do their job, when they weren’t in it anymore and were sitting behind a desk? Valid point.
As managers and supervisors, it’s our role to listen to workers. We may not necessarily be doing the same tasks, but we have to understand them completely. If we’re writing a policy, program, SOP, etc. we’re writing it for the workers. After all, at the end of the day, EVERYONE is a worker, regardless of your title and duties. Policies shouldn’t be dead documents. They should be living and breathing in your organization. There needs to be committees established to consult on them, they should have a review structure established to ensure they still make sense, and they should be trained on and built into your program, so they don’t collect dust.
For your programs to be successful, you NEED to have the buy-in from the worker. Without it, you’ve got no program.