Building Employee Trust: Focusing On Workplace Safety

Management is more than creating schedules, directing employees and making sure goals are met. To be successful in management, you must earn the respect and trust of employees – otherwise, you may find morale is low and turnover is high.

You may already know that being a strong leader requires diplomacy, patience and exemplifying the work ethic you expect from your employees. But employees also want to know that you care about their well-being and safety. Following are some ways you can show employees you care.

Policies that protect

Violence in the workplace has become increasingly common, and in 2012, workplace homicides had increased 50 percent from the year before. Your employees want to feel safe on the job. That begins with making sure employees have a safe, well-lit place to park. But you also need to develop policies and procedures that demonstrate your commitment to safety.

As part of your employee onboarding process, explain to new hires that the use of violent words, slurs, or other potentially threatening language will not be tolerated. Train employees about what is considered verbal or physical harassment, and have them sign a form acknowledging that they are aware of and will abide by workplace policies.

Physical safety

Whether you run a warehouse or a corporate office, all visitors should be required to sign-in at a front desk and receive a visitor’s badge. Ideally, you should have a security camera capture images of all visitors, and access to the main work area should be locked. You can also protect workers in the following ways:

  • Create emergency plans that clearly explain what to do in event of natural disaster, workplace violence or fire. Run through emergency drills, so employees actually go through the steps they would take in a real-life emergency. Make sure employees know the location of fire extinguishers, and arrange for training on how to use them.
  • Make facility safety a priority; look for hazards like slippery steps that may need to be outfitted with treads and exposed wires or cables that could cause people to trip. If you’re not sure what to look for, start by getting a free safety consultation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
  • Ensure workstations are ergonomically sound, to prevent the risk of back and wrist injury. Budget for ergonomic additions that will make employees comfortable – like wrist rests or monitor stands.

Safe emotional space

A good workplace will support employees who find themselves in states of emotional distress, whether from personal tragedy, emotional or health problems, or acute stress on the job. Promote healthy means of coping with stress and intense emotion, and be prepared to refer distressed employees to outside resources as needed. You may also face a situation where many members of your workplace are feeling stress or sadness from a national tragedy. In times of community suffering or tragedy, be prepared to give employees some time to cope with the tragedy before immediately getting back to their normal levels of productivity.

When you develop policies that protect workers, enact security measures to keep the workplace safe and respect employees’ mental and physical health, you will be rewarded with increased employee productivity and retention.