In March 2020, we all were hoping to soon see a reduction in the effects of COVID-19. From spring into summer, and from summer into fall – it became evident that we were in for a long, long-term battle to regain some form of normalcy and safety.
We have seen three significant surges in COVID cases; the last dwarfing numbers of the previous two. So here we are again, in March, looking cautiously forward in anticipation of a better day to come. As vaccinations continue, we all should be joined together – continuing to promote and practice safe behaviors, not only at work, but away from work as well.
As we mentioned last year in a post entitled COVID and Culture, the compounded concerns about health, financial futures, and disrupted lives produced one of the most difficult seasons in our lifetimes. Gallup’s findings of unprecedented spikes in daily worry and stress saw a drop in life satisfaction which equaled that of the Great Depression.
With the positive trends over the past month, everyone is eagerly waiting to see if those trends continue in the right direction over a sustained period. Millions of Americans have been vaccinated, and we hope as more and more receive vaccinations, we will see society and business continue to recover.
In April last year, we wrote about the emphasis on safe and healthy behaviors both in the workplace and away from the job. Many organizations discovered the value of holistic approaches to safety during the pandemic. If a strong safety culture and management process was in place at the beginning of 2020, the benefits of such were substantiated many times over. For those lacking in a strong program and process, the need to develop and implement one became strikingly evident.
Many of our clients added COVID-related indicators to their programs and adjusted them as need throughout. For example, as vaccines became available, some emphasized the importance of vaccination by including it as a safety performance indicator. Some opt to use on-the-spot recognition. There are many ways to recognize, reward, and reinforce – and this is more easily and effectively accomplished when a robust program is in place.
Peter G. Furst’s article, The Five Pillars of a Highly Effective Safety Management Process (Occupational Health & Safety, Jan/Feb 2021), points out the importance of approaching safety holistically. Furst notes that, “There has to be a robust value-based culture that focuses, nurtures, supports, rewards, and values safe operations.” To that end, he lists five pillars which can provide the framework that is innovative, excellence driven, and business focused. These five pillars are:
- Business & Operational Excellence
- Relationship, Trust, and Value Proposition
- Principle Focused Leadership
- Innovation, Growth, and Learning
- Dashboards and Metrics
Furst concludes by stating, “Excellence in safety can only be achieved through a strategy-driven, performance-based safety management process that is supported by operational excellence, driven by principle-centered leadership, sustained by engaged and involved employees and facilitated by a value-based culture.”
We agree! We also recommend, as a part of a strategy-driven, performance-based process – the implementation of a comprehensive, points-based recognition/safety program to facilitate communication, learning, and growth – while rewarding safe attitudes and behaviors – both at work and away. As we continue to work toward a post-COVID reality, a holistic approach to safety is vital for excellence in safety.