It is not a new idea to claim that senior managers have a significant impact on an organization's safety culture, and therefore on accidents and illness. Senior management's role extends beyond the resources available. Senior management must demonstrate positive behaviour, speak strongly about health and safety, and support measures that go beyond compliance. But how do we communicate this ideology to senior management?
In this article, we will highlight the key takeaways from an EcoOnline hosted webinar where our panel of Louis Wustemann, Emma Glenc and Paul Ruddick discuss getting senior management buy-in for your safety software project
What core data does management want from the health and safety function?
Starting off, senior management will look for indicators that have the most effect on the business. Any sort of reason that may have an impact financially/legally will attract the attention of management. As you mature, focus changes to preventing incidents for example near miss reporting, inspections, tours, observations, and risk assessments reviews. You need a core balance between traditional (injury statistics) against more of a leading statistic.
Fortunately, health & and well-being are now in the spotlight for a lot of organizations. You could potentially side that with tracking your data and seeing the relationships between health & safety data contributing towards injury-related events. It’s important to look into a person’s physical or psychological state potentially being involved in events. The key takeaway here is that it’s important to question the data with ‘WHY?’ instead of taking it at face value. If you wish to find out more on this topic, check out our whitepaper here.
When do you know the maturity level is right to introduce more safety data?
According to Emma, it is when you’re in that state of acceptance. When that core set of data is discussed openly, freely, and challenged. A good indicator is that, rather than being the last item on the agenda, health and safety should be among the first. “Less is sometimes more to start with and you’ll get that feeling that there is a desire to talk about it instead of being forced and gradually drip-feed other indicators.” - Emma Glenc, Data and Reporting Strategy Manager at VolkerRail Ltd
Senior managers who may have come from different roots such as accounting or law up to senior positions, what are the challenges that present in terms of communication with their different approaches?
Of course, all senior members believe that health & safety is important. However, it is important to communicate it in a language that is relatable. People work in various parts of the organization and their motivations are often very different in terms of health & safety. For example, when talking to the finance director he/she is not discrediting the importance of health and safety, but they need to understand the risk and impact of not taking it seriously such as insurance claims and prosecutions. It is worth noting that the use of language is key.
Do you think how displaying the data can help?
It is critical that the data is easy to understand. Although it is still the responsibility of the health and safety director to package this data. We want stakeholders and senior management to be able to see the data for themselves in addition to the personalised walk through they get at monthly meetings, so the more accessible we can make it, the better.
According to EcoOnline customers, the best way to display data graphically is through easily digestible charts and graphs.
What is the most effective way to engage with senior management e.g when presenting?
Simply putting a statistic on a slide is simply not effective anymore. Senior management teams want to know the detail behind the statistics and telling the story can help paint a fuller picture. With using the EcoOnline software “The system that we do in ECO is that the information is live in real-time and we don't prepare presentations and we don't even use snapshots of graphs anymore. We'll just pick out key highlights and then we'll just provide a link directly in that meeting to the senior management team dashboards and they can fire questions away.”.
What are the benefits of getting senior management engaged with the subject?
The main benefit to proper engagement would be seeing ownership/leadership amongst senior management in the role of health & safety. They would feel responsible for it. Furthermore, the role becomes less reliant and the health and safety officers. Instead, they can almost act as an advisory agent instead of completely owning the health and safety role.
How can digitisation help?
Health and safety management software can go a long way to helping you to prepare for your ESG reporting. EcoOnline's powerful and rich EHS software platform can help you to create safe, sustainable, compliant and efficient workplaces. If you are interested in finding out more, request a demo today or take a look at a clip from the webinar of Paul Ruddick giving a guide through the software