As a business owner or CEO, there’s nothing more important than the safety and well-being of your employees. Forget about revenue, profit, customer count, and other metrics. Nothing matters if you have a toxic work environment.
Fortunately, there are various steps you can take to foster a safe workplace. With the right approach, you can be confident that your employees will better enjoy their work environment.
1. Set Expectations Upfront
This is where it all starts. You want every employee, regardless of tenure, to understand what’s expected of them. This knowledge goes a long way in helping foster the type of workplace environment you’re striving for.
One of the best ways to set expectations is by outlining them in your employee handbook. Not only does this share the correct information with your team, but it also gives them a point of reference.
If you need help setting expectations, it may be time to consult with an HR or business coach. They can provide guidance and feedback that you may have overlooked.
2. Get Serious about Training
This is where many companies miss the mark. They set expectations and assume that their employees will do the right thing. However, this doesn’t always hold true. When you get more serious about training, there’s less chance of somebody stepping out of line.
A good example is diversity and inclusion training. Hold sessions for new and old employees alike. As a general rule of thumb, one or two training sessions per year is a good starting point. You can then tweak your approach according to your company’s specific needs.
3. Have a System for Managing Workplace Conflict
No matter how much work you put in to help employees avoid conflict, it’s bound to happen at some point. This is something you should expect. When a conflict comes to light, you must have a system for effectively managing it.
Don’t assume that you’ll get this right the first time around. Even if you have a system that you think will work, that’s not always the case. Not to mention the fact that every conflict is unique. You can’t take the same approach to each situation.
4. Implement a Zero Tolerance Policy
This alone shows employees how serious you are about fostering a safe workplace. A zero tolerance policy for unacceptable behavior can help curb many problems before they move to the forefront.
If you’re going to implement a zero tolerance policy, be sure that you share your intentions with every employee. They need to know that this policy is in place. They also need to know what constitutes violating the policy. Make sure there’s no gray area.
5. Ask for Feedback
You hope that your policies are effective from day one, but there’s no guarantee. Carefully consider what’s working, what’s not, and how you can make changes for the better. One of the best ways to do this is by requesting feedback from your team. Ask questions such as:
- What are your overall thoughts on workplace safety, security, and inclusion?
- Have you had any negative experiences at work? How did you resolve them?
- Are there any specific areas in which you’d like to see improvement?
- Where has the company come up short in the past?
As you collect answers to these questions, you will better understand what to do next. Maybe you continue down the same path. Perhaps you need to make some minor adjustments. Or maybe you need to revamp everything you’ve done to date.
There’s nothing more important than the feedback you receive from your team. These are the people who have to work within your policies, so they must be comfortable doing so.
Along with the above, don’t hesitate to take as much time as necessary to learn more about fostering a safe workplace. For example, knowing the difference between sexual assault and sexual harassment can help you make more informed decisions regarding safety.
Don’t let anything stop you from getting serious about workplace safety and security. It should be at the top of your priority list.
What steps have you taken to foster a safe workplace? Have you had success to date? Are there any others that you need to tackle in the near future?