For Valentine’s Day - Give from the Heart with Safety

Latte with heart-shaped foam on desk with keyboard and notebook

Okay, it may not be as popular as flowers or chocolate, but the gift of safety truly can be the best gift you could ever give to a person.  What is more precious than one’s safety and health?  So maybe this year you should forego the usual red and white stacks of forgettable cards and give someone a pair of safety glasses or work gloves!  

I know what you’re thinking… this is going too far.  Maybe so, but caring for the people in your organization isn’t excessive at all - it’s the right thing to do.  Safety culture improvement is the foundation of injury prevention and it can all start by simply treating your employees and coworkers as you would your family members. (Or depending on your family, treat them even better!)  Following the OSHA standards is required by law, enforcing your safety rules with your disciplinary program is sometimes necessary, but caring for people will naturally lead to safer workplaces through support, encouragement, and empathy. 

Every organization needs to balance productivity, quality, and safety.  If any of those elements are missing the overall results will suffer significantly and often to the point of failure.  We’ve posted on this topic in the past - take a look at Pete Koch’s post entitled, “Safety Third” for more details.  Treating people in your organization with respect and considering their emotional needs for inclusiveness can go a long way towards improving all aspects of organizational success.

Caring for people is a leadership style that sounds natural and intuitive, but actually requires significant effort and attention.  In his book, Lead from the Heart Mark Crowley states, “One hundred years ago, a job and a paycheck kept workers satisfied.  Now, pay barely makes the list… more than half of all workers hate their jobs.”  He goes on to say, “What I’ve learned and concluded is that we need a new model of leadership for a new age—a paradigm that acknowledges the humanity—the hearts—in people.” 

Workplace safety is dependent upon workers caring for people, following the rules, taking the extra time to operate safely, and feeling connected to the entire organization.  When workers are disgruntled, treated like a commodity, or don’t enjoy their work then they often don’t care about safety any more than they care about production or quality.  Workplace injuries follow and this leads to declining morale and employee engagement. 

James Kouzes and Barry Posner are accomplished authors and nationally known speakers.  They have written many bestselling books about leadership including The Leadership Challenge, A Leader’s Legacy, The Truth about Leadership, and Encouraging the Heart.  In this last book they say, “Courage.  Encourage.  Two words, same origin.  Heart.  You gotta have heart.  Miles and miles and miles of it.  There’s no bravery or boldness without heart.  There’s no spirit or support without heart.  There’s no sacrifice or soul without heart.  Nothing great ever gets done without heart.  You gotta have heart.” 

 So for this Valentine’s Day take a moment to think about your organization and how leadership cares for the people who work so hard.  After all, safety is all about caring for people.  No one wants to be hurt, and no one wants to see others hurt.  Injury prevention becomes easier when we all care about each other, we lead from the heart, and put people first.  This will lead to successful safety programs, but also keep workers motivated and satisfied in their work.  As Barry Posner would say, “successful leaders put their business in their hearts and their hearts in their business.”

Happy Valentine’s Day from everyone at The MEMIC Group.  Feel free to give the traditional flowers or candy to your significant others, but also put some heart into your safety programs.  The results will be amazing. 

By Randy Klatt