Workplace culture is the set of shared attitudes, beliefs and practices demonstrated by workers at all levels which guides a shared purpose and fosters an organisations capacity to thrive. Easy to say challenging to achieve.
Both employers and employees bang on about workplace culture infinitum. It has become a buzzword treated with disdain by some and embraced by others. Workplace culture is portrayed as the panacea for improving profitability whilst at the same time embracing the commitment to workplace safety. Safety and workplace culture should walk a road hand-in-hand and is driven from a top-down perspective.
At its most basic, the outcomes envisaged by appropriate workplace culture are well-founded. It evidences, amongst other things an entities serious ongoing commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility. The concept is not as simple as waving a magic wand and hey presto the workplace embraces a workplace culture that is designed to achieve the objectives. It requires commitment and effort by all affected or potentially affected.
The concept is not achieved by imposition. A philosophy of ‘do as I say not as I do’ is doomed to failure. Workplace culture is founded on a multifaceted commitment that embraces ‘the hearts and minds of all that engenders a sense of pride in the way we do things around here’. There is an old analogy that of a single piece of bad fruit amongst a bowl of good fruit will eventually render the whole bowl rotten. Those charged with the responsibility of achieving the objectives undertake a futile exercise if the team or an individual team member is dismissive of driving a proactive safety workplace culture as a basis to increase profitability. Conversely research shows that for everyone dollar devoted to safety an organisation may save three dollars in costs.
Contemptuousness of safety workplace culture is contrary to proactivity. The need to be on the ‘front foot’ so to speak is at the heart of safety risk mitigation. We all assume risk by going to the shop or to work; risk is ever present, and the trick is to recognise that risk exists and so far, as is reasonably practicable, reduce the risk. Workplace culture is a proactive risk mitigation strategy that may not only save lives but reduce corporate and personal liability whilst contributing to profitability.
It is well held that those who stand too close to the hurly-burly of a particular corporate environment will, to some extent, be unable to see the wood from the trees. Pressure and priorities sometimes have a perverting effect. This is not a criticism of those with a genuine desire; it is a statement of fact that impartiality and independence counterbalances bias. Human nature is such that what we perceive to be right when viewed objectively through the eyes of another may be shown to be in error.
Successful leaders will stop regarding the development of proactive safety workplace culture as frustration and instead use it as a fundamental management ethos for the better.
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Author: Bill McSharer MBA, GCBA, Dip.CD
Co- Author: Dr. Garry Claxton LLB MBA PhD Prof. MASSE