Many leaders are hesitant to adopt and enforce new safety programs because they're afraid they will cause a dip in productivity. The fact is, they're right, but only in the beginning. Most of these programs will slow things down at first as your team learns and internalizes the correct procedures, but in the long run, the benefits of implementing a safety program far outweigh the minor setbacks that may occur in the initial stages.
When you consider that employers in the US paid almost $1 billion per week for workers compensation costs in 2010 (United States Department of Labor), you can see how the effects of inadequate safety measures could far outweigh any small dip in productivity.
More things to consider:
Safety programs make processes more efficient: When guidelines and procedures are clearly outlined and followed, there's less room for error. That means your team is operating at higher efficiency, which has a direct impact on your bottom line.
Safety programs prevent injury: Nothing slows productivity more than temporarily (or worse, permanently) losing an employee due to an injury. Safety means less opportunity for accidents that cause your staff members to miss work or become limited in their abilities.
Safety programs improve team morale: While some employees might roll their eyes at having to follow new safety procedures or abide by more rules, deep down, they'll know that you're doing it because you care about their wellbeing. They'll also feel more confident in the safety of their workplace, and therefore more confident in their work, and what does that mean? You guessed it – an increase in productivity.
Reducing the Dip in Productivity
There's no doubt that safety programs are beneficial to your organization in the long run, but is there anything that can be done to reduce the dip in productivity that occurs during implementation? The answer is yes! Here are a few tips:
Ensure all safety procedures are communicated clearly: Whether it's a new safety program or a revamp of an old one, ensuring all expectations and procedures are clearly communicated in easy-to-understand terms will help speed up implementation.
Ensure all written safety procedures are accessible: New safety programs often mean new manuals, forms, and operating instructions. Your team will internalize everything much faster if the information is readily available for reference, so be sure to distribute copies to all parties involved, and all clearly display all instructions where applicable.
Meet regularly to review and monitor progress: It's a great idea for management to meet periodically to review the success of the new safety program implementation. This way, you can spot problem areas and set backs and address them quickly.
Encourage employee feedback on how to improve the process: If something is preventing your team from getting back to normal productivity levels, they can likely tell you why. Encourage feedback and suggestions for speedier implementation.
The Bottom Line: Safety is Smart
If you remember all these benefits, and be patient during the learning curve, you'll see that implementing a new safety program is always the best choice. You're being a responsible employer, protecting your employees, improving workplace efficiency, and increasing productivity in the long run.