Feeling safe in the workplace means more than OHS compliance!

In a world that has uncertain trading conditions and highly volatile market challenges and an Australian media that feeds that uncertainty, people often feel very insecure in the workplace. Australia is a lucky nation with low unemployment levels of around 4.5%, unlike the US that is pushing 10.5%, (declared). Many companies suggest having corporate values and visions and missions, but if you were to ask the average employee what was important to them, in these times, they would say a steady career path and a guaranteed job.

Values are critical in any relationship, in fact if you consider those people that are close to you – no doubt you would have “a meeting of the minds” in terms of aligned values and attitudes about life. A harmonious workplace, like a
harmonious relationship occurs when people are aligned to the values and people feel safe to express their point of view. Andrew Horabin once spoke about the essence of his book “Bullshift- getting honesty and straight talk in the workplace” and he stated that if people are not heard and made to feel safe – they will be defensive, make excuses and abdicate responsibility. These are all behaviours that reduce workplace productivity.

Of all the critical values that a company can have – the first is that an employee should feel safe in their tenure. A famous psychologist – Abraham Maslow who examined human needs found that there is a hierarchy of needs and feeling safe is the top of the tree. People need to feel safe – they need to feel that their role is secure and that they are supported. If you ever study youth delinquents- they have a history of feeling neglected and unsafe.

Therefore – if you are happy with your team – think about ways that you can make them feel safe in their career journey with you – allow them to be able to express their thoughts and opinions with encouragement and make time with them regularly, to review their progress and their long term role in your company. Feeling safe in the workplace is more than compliance to Occupational Health and Safety standards!