Many companies in response to the ongoing spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), will continue to deliver business, however this will be done through digital and virtual means where possible for the time being.
The role of Safety Leadership is more important to care deeply about your people and regularly demonstrate the value of safety through your actions.
We have identified seven practices that every leader needs to adopt to “walk the walk” when it comes to safety:
- Vision. Leaders must have the ability to “see” what safety excellence looks like and a capability to articulate it throughout the organization.
E.g: Setting a target for safety excellence: no employee will be infected with COVID-19, or there is no non-productive time due to unintended quarantine (suspected infection). Developing risk assessment for COVID at the company.
- Collaboration. Effective leaders work well with employees, promote cooperation and collaboration, actively seek input from people on issues that affect them, and encourage others to implement their decisions to improve safety.
E.g: Collecting comments or ideas of the employee on equipping a safe working environment with necessary procedures or protective equipment during the COVID epidemic.
- Credibility. Does the leader generate a high level of trust with his or her employees? This requires a willingness to admit mistakes and advocate the safety interests of everyone, from managers to the front line.
E.g: Providing trustful information about the infected/ suspected/ close exposure cases in the vicinity of the company premises for all employees.
- Communication. Safety leaders need to be talking about safety every time they speak. Everything they communicate must be within the context of safety.
E.g: During social quarantine, regularly sharing information through email/ newsletter on how to prevent COVID epidemic; guiding people to isolate themselves at home as well as how to reduce stress and create an effective home working environment; updating information from the Ministry of Health and other trustful resources for the employee.
- Action orientation. Is the safety leader ready to tackle safety proactively rather than just react to incidents? Safety leaders need to show urgency even in the absence of incidents to show they’re serious about achieving results.
E.g: Working closely with relevant departments to develop a separate emergency response plan for the COVID pandemic; setting up the medical checks for employees and contractors when working at the site.
- Feedback and recognition. Leaders need honest and accurate feedback on the effect of their behaviors to help them ensure consistency between their passion for people and the message employees receive based on their actions.
E.g: Having regular statistics reports on COVID disease control by the staff and submitting to the company’s board management.
- Accountability. An effective leader gives workers a fair appraisal of their safety efforts and results, clearly communicates individual roles in the safety effort, and fosters the sense that every person is responsible for safety throughout the organization.
E.g: Communicating the roles and responsibilities for each department and individual in the COVID prevention; giving commendation for well-performed departments and taking disciplinary action if detecting violations on the company/ state regulations.
All of these elements work together in a way that creates not only an exemplary safety culture and an environment where people want to work safely but also a culture in which it’s sustainable.
As a consulting firm, we strongly believe that in these challenging times of COVID-19, it is important we continue to provide opportunities for leaders to build strong, diverse networks and to develop leadership skills. Contact us for “Safety Leadership” and “Emergency Response” training courses in the future.
Reference: National Safety Council (U.S)