COVID-19: A catalyst for safety culture change?

A catalyst for safety culture change

By Madison Hanscom, PhD

COVID-19 has changed our way of life inside and outside of work. It has forced us to rethink the way we work and enjoy time off. Businesses have been hit extremely hard, and most have been forced to make fast decisions to protect workers and customers.
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Can responses to COVID-19 act as a litmus test for safety culture?

a litmus test for safety culture


By Madison Hanscom

The pandemic has created an extremely difficult scenario for many businesses. Amidst the hardship, companies are working to balance the safety of workers and customers along with financial survival. This begs the question — will the way in which a company responds to COVID-19 be a reflection of the safety culture?
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The Ultimate Safety Change Buy-In Guide

The Ultimate Safety Change Buy-In Guide


By Brie DeLisi

Creating and implementing safety changes in an organization is no easy task. There are so many opportunities for failure – not having a thorough plan, unanticipated roadblocks, a lack of resources, ill-suited programs and procedures. Even if all of those items are covered, the most impactful is whether or not there is buy in from the greater employee population. Below, we’ll cover tips on how to generate employee buy-in when making changes to organizational safety.
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What are the main causes of burnout?

What are the main causes of burnout


By Madison Hanscom, PhD

Burnout is deep and pervasive. It is marked by emotional exhaustion, physical fatigue, cynicism towards others, and depleted mental resources (1).

The main causes: The five factors that were most strongly related to burnout (as indicated by a survey of nearly 7,500 full time employees) are unfair treatment at work, unmanageable workload, lack of role clarity, lack of communication and support from the management, and unreasonable time pressure (2). There is something these burnout correlates have in common — they are issues with the workplace, not the person. Although teaching employees strategies to deal with these burnout factors can be valuable (e.g., meditation, resilience), it is not addressing the root cause. It is up to management to fix the system and culture in order to make deep, meaningful change happen.
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Do you support or hinder a climate of recovery in your workplace? A leadership self-assessment.

Do you support or hinder a climate of recovery in your workplace


By Madison Hanscom, PhD

Recovery and downtime are important for a happy and productive workforce. As a leader, you should consider your role in this process. Reflect on how you contribute to the climate surrounding recovery in your workplace. A study from the American Psychological Association recently showed when companies encourage people to take their vacation time to disconnect, employees come back feeling more refreshed, motivated, and productive than companies that do not encourage taking time off (1).
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Sheriff, Diplomat, Investigator: Which Style are You? (Trick Question)

Sheriff, Diplomat, Investigator


By Josh Williams, Ph.D.

Leaders with effective communication skills are better able to constructively express their vision, relate to employees, and achieve their own work goals compared to leaders with poor communication skills (Poertner & Miller, 1996). This directly impacts employees’ attitudes and behaviors for safety.

Unfortunately, communication with employees is sometimes strained, confrontational, or non-existent. Some interpersonal communication problems may be caused by incompatible communication styles between people. The following classification model may be useful (and fun) for understanding your communication style. This includes the sheriff, diplomat, and investigator (adapted from Poertner & Miller, 1996). A person’s communication style is a mix of all three components although one component (or two) is often most pronounced. Read More...

Does leadership training work? Findings from research.

Does leadership training work


By Madison Hanscom, PhD

There are a great deal of conflicting perspectives when it comes to leadership training. Many individuals do not think it is worth the time because they believe leaders are born and not made – that genetics and personality are more influential in determining a great leader than the knowledge, skills, and abilities someone can build and sharpen during training. Others think training is a valuable tool that leads to a better workforce. But what does the research say?
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Picture the O.C.E.A.N.: Learning from the Big 5 to Support Safety

Learning from the Big 5 to Support Safety



By Josh Williams, Ph.D.

Want to be a better safety leader? Picture the ocean. Not the Atlantic or Pacific but the acronym O.C.E.A.N. This stands for the Big 5 personality traits of Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. Before addressing each trait in the Big 5, here’s a bit of history into its development.
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You have solid planning and procedures. Does that mean your safety culture change efforts will be successful?

Does that mean your safety culture change efforts will be successful


By Madison Hanscom and Brie DeLisi

When it comes to occupational safety, planning and procedures are incredibly important. They may be a legal requirement in some respects, and they also provide a guideline for the workforce to be aligned on mission, goals, and activities.
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Increasing Employee Safety Commitment: Considerations for Leaders

Increasing Employee Safety Commitment


By Josh Williams, Ph.D.

Effective leaders continuously look for ways to increase employee safety commitment. Employees who feel committed to the organization are more likely to work safely, caution others for safety, and get actively involved in safety efforts. Those who aren’t committed rarely go beyond the call of duty for safety or anything else. In fact, they may have more serious issues such as non-compliance, absenteeism/tardiness, and confrontations with others. Organizational commitment consists of (Saal & Knight,1995):
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What can leaders do to create a less stressful workplace? [Part 3]

What can leaders do to create a less stressful workplace 3

By Madison Hanscom, PhD

Take care of your own stress and work with employees to build a “stress management toolbox”. As I mentioned in Part 1 of this blog series, the right solutions are going to depend on the source of stress, and the best solutions are primary solutions that address the root of the problem. As a leader, you often have more power than employees to make changes that reduce stressors, so consider what you can do first to create a healthier work environment (see the second blog in this series).
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What can leaders do to create a less stressful workplace? [Part 2]

What can leaders do to create a less stressful workplace 2


By Madison Hanscom, PhD

Leaders are in a unique position where they can make positive changes that influence the lives of their employees. Consider the following strategies:
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What can leaders do to create a less stressful workplace? [Part 1]

What can leaders do to create a less stressful workplace 1


By Madison Hanscom, PhD

Remember that not all stressors have the same impact, and not all stress interventions work similarly.

There are different types of stressors. Some stress can actually be a great thing. It can be energizing, create engagement, or promote personal growth. A job without stress of any kind would be boring, and we certainly would not grow professionally! If you think back to some of your greatest achievements, there were likely stressful moments along the way. This is normal and healthy.
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Does virtual training work?

Does virtual training work


By Madison Hanscom, PhD

Virtual training is becoming more and more common, which begs the question: does it work?
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Beware the Lost Customer

Beware the Lost Customer



By Dale Lawrence

Operational leaders, over the past five months of COVID-19, have mostly focused on managing costs, making decisions on difficult layoffs and furloughs while trying to convince their customers to purchase goods and services. This has been a balancing act, but the customer likely has taken a back seat to the other operational needs. In a number of areas, the customer’s experience has been forgotten.
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A Safety Leadership Quiz: How Well Do You Stack Up?

How Well Do You Stack Up

By Josh Williams, Ph.D.

Previous blogs have addressed numerous ways leaders need to “show up” for safety. Unfortunately, leaders sometimes inadvertently encourage at-risk behavior by failing to praise safe behaviors, ignoring at-risk behaviors, over-emphasizing production, and modeling risky behaviors. Here’s a quick summary:
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What does being civil have to do with being safe?

What does being civil have to do with being safe


By Madison Hanscom, PhD

It is not a secret… when the workforce perceives that management considers safety to be as important as production, this is associated with great outcomes.
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Kindness is key: The power of respectful relationships at work

power of respectful relationships at work


By Madison Hanscom, PhD

Respectful treatment is not always the norm in every work group. There are countless individuals who are required to interact with other workers and leaders who are rude, sarcastic, judgmental, and disrespectful. Incivility can be as subtle was a snarky remark, or as obvious as aggression.
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Can your leader at work influence life at home?

influence life at home



By Madison Hanscom, PhD

Whether it is wrapping up a deliverable, venting about a hard day, or preparing for the next day ahead, many of us bring work home. But has research been conducted to examine the effects of leadership characteristics spilling over into the home domain of their followers? A recent study was conducted to examine the impact that empowering leaders have on their employees’ home lives.
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Human Resources in a Flexible Work Model

Human Resources in a Flexible Work


By Madison Hanscom, PhD

We are currently experiencing more remote work and telework than ever before, and Human Resource professionals are being asked to adapt quickly to this flex work model. Because those in HR are connected with employees from when they enter the company to the day they leave, they have a major impact on the people – and as a result, in shaping the company culture. HR also plays an important role in helping the company make a successful transition to a flex work model.

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Why are your employees not reporting near misses?

employees not reporting near misses


By Brie DeLisi


Most industrial organizations have implemented some form of near miss, close call or observation program – whether it is a top-of-the-line app that make reporting a breeze, to paper forms that can be dropped in a box. While completely different methodologies, both will either succeed or fail based on the same factors.
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Employee Well-being and Flex Work: Research Findings

Employee Well-being and Flex Work


By Madison Hanscom, PhD

Virtual work is becoming a part of everyday life for many individuals. What does the research have to say about how it impacts our well-being? Working from home is associated with…

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Four Communication Styles for Safety: Which One Are You?

Four Communication Styles for Safety


By Josh Williams, Ph.D.

There are many ways leaders “show up” for safety. Effective communication is near the top of the list. Leaders show they understand and care through thoughtful, interactive conversations with employees. This includes strong listening skills and authentic responses to issues that arise. This is the essence of empathic communication and is vastly different from these maladaptive patterns: dominant, passive, and passive aggressive (adapted from Brounstein, 2001). A brief review of each style is provided below. Which one best reflects how you lead and interact with your employees?
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Organizational Learning and Occupational Safety

Organizational Learning


By Madison Hanscom, PhD

The world is changing, and it is vital to prioritize organizational learning both during times of adjustment and during sustainment periods. Exemplar knowledge sharing and learning are critical components in leading a successful business, and it is also a determinant in leading a safe one.
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What is the best way to handle unsafe behavior?

What is the best way to handle unsafe behavior

By Brie DeLisi

“Hey! what the $@&* do you think you’re doing?!” or perhaps someone just sneaks a picture of an unsafe behavior and reports it through the official reporting chain. How we handle unsafe behavior directly reflects where the safety culture is from a maturity perspective. So, what are the different ways that organizations can handle unsafe behavior and what does that mean for the culture?
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Flex Work and Loneliness: What Can We Do?

Flex Work and Loneliness What Can We Do?


By Madison Hanscom, PhD

Working from home can be a positive opportunity for many individuals. It might come with a shorter commute, less interruptions, more productive work time, and less stress. Despite the huge number of employees who are enjoying working from home, a dark side to flex work for some can be the aspect of loneliness.
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Safety Leadership and Sports Analogies

Safety Leadership and Sports Analogies


By Josh Williams, Ph. D.

Fellow sports fans are lamenting the lack of televised sports in the COVID era. In fact, some are suggesting the lack of sports are actually creating low levels of anxiety and depression in more passionate fans. “One of the first things to recognize is that, yes, sports is a form of entertainment. But it is also a source of social connectiveness with family, friends and with a team,” said Dr. Mark Terjesen, a professor of psychology at St. John’s. “For some, the absence of sports compared to everything else may seem frivolous. But, for the rest of us, it’s a way of life. Many fans have a deep, personal history with teams and with fellow fans." (Gross, 2020).

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