Posts Tagged ‘employee morale’

Could You Use More Feedback From Employees? (Safety Culture Tip #5)

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Three mechanics talking by an engineLet’s say you’re trying to implement a more effective safety culture at your dealership. You’re running down the checklist: Senior management team’s on board? Check. The safety coordinator’s been assigned? Check. Quick follow-up on accidents? Check. Return-to-work procedures? Check.

Employee feedback?… Uh oh.

It’s easy for a “safety culture” to become a stream of top-down orders from management, without much feedback being sent back up the corporate food chain. And employees who don’t give feedback are less likely to report accidents in a timely manner, or new risks they’ve observed. What can you do to get them engaged?

  1. Make it easy to communicate with managers. For example, provide safety suggestion boxes.
  2. Encourage managers to initiate conversations about safety, not just wait for complaints.
  3. Give employees permission to go straight to the Safety Coordinator with their concerns.
  4. Ask employees to pick a spokesperson to represent them at the safety meetings. This could be a lead tech or shop foreman that everyone respects.
  5. Don’t let accident investigations turn into a blame-game. (I covered this more extensively in tip #3 of this series.)

If you’re a supervisor who’s trying to get your employees to provide more feedback about safety, you may find that your HR manager becomes your closest ally. That’s because employees who know their feedback is valuable to management tend to stay longer, produce more, get hurt less, and refer their friends for open positions. HR will love you!

Resources related to this blog post:
Webinar: “How to Develop a Positive Safety Culture” by Nick Hardesty
Blog posts on safety culture: Defining a Safety Culture, Tip #1 –Senior Management, Tip #2 –Safety Coordinators, Tip #3 – Accident Follow-up, Tip #4 – Return-to-Work Policies

Employee Recognition Matters to Your Bottom Line

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

productivity marketing management efficiency profit risingAcademic studies, research by firms such as Gallup and personal experience all confirm the following statements:

There is a direct correlation between effective employee recognition programs and employee engagement.  Engaged employees are critical to long term financial performance

Shawn Anchor, author of The Happiness Advantage, states: “A decade of research proves that happiness raises nearly every business and educational outcome: raising sales by 37%, productivity by 31% and accuracy on tasks by 19%.”

Still not convinced employee recognition is all that important? Consider the following conclusion from the Carrot Principle based on surveys done by Health Stream Research and supported by data from Towers and Perrin.

  • Companies that effectively recognize excellence enjoy an ROE (return on equity) three times higher than the return experienced by firms that do not;
  • Companies that effectively recognize excellence enjoy an ROA (return on assets) three times higher than the return experienced by firms that do not;
  • Companies in the highest quartile of recognition of excellence report an operating margin of 6.6 percent, while those in the lowest quartile report 1 percent.

The next time someone asks you if employee recognition programs pay off, don’t hesitate. Your confident answer should be, “Yes!”

Republished with gratitude from Dealer Communications’ “No-Nonsense HR” column by Kathryn Carlson.

What Exactly Is a “Safety Culture”?

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

In order to be profitable, an auto dealership needs to implement effective safety procedures. This is why KPA encourages clients to maintain a “safety culture.” But what is that, really?

Safety culture = groups that prioritize safety through consistent beliefs and patterns of behavior

Elements of Safety Culture Include Communication Behavior Training

An effective safety culture features good communication, consistent activity and training. How does your dealership create a safety culture?

Now I realize that sounds a bit abstract. Here’s a different way to explain it: If you just have a “safety first” banner hanging on the wall, occasional meetings on safety and reactionary lectures when something goes wrong, you don’t have a safety culture. A true safety culture exists when all of a dealership’s employees work as a team to

  • Maintain awareness of safety and health issues
  • Quickly report any incidents
  • Anticipate risks in order to prevent accidents before they occur

How do I know I have a “safety culture” in my dealership?

That’s a good question that will save you a lot of money over the long haul. Here’s a quick checklist of what you’ll find in a dealership with a strong safety culture:

  • Safety is top-of-mind for everyone
  • Employees at all levels in the dealership feel responsible for safety
  • There’s open communication about safety issues
  • Safety is valued – employees and management believe it supports profitability and morale
  • Efforts to maintain safety are organized and consistent
  • Effective programs ensure that everyone “walks the talk”

To learn how to do this, you might also want to check out my recent webinar, “How to Develop a Positive Safety Culture.” Also, remember to call your KPA Environment and Safety engineer if you have questions. If you’re not a client, call 866-356-1735 to find out how we can help.

The Number One Least Asked Question at Your Dealership…Why?

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

In business, the “why?” tends to get lost in the shuffle. We understand the how and when of our jobs, but too often the why remains unanswered, or it is “You have to do it because that is what everyone else is doing.”

Which leads to the question, “Why is safety culture important?”

This is an important question, because to date, most companies have made a business out of ignoring everything but the bottom line. We can’t have a meaningful discussion about caring for worker safety if we don’t know why doing so is a business advantage. This new report at EHSToday, helps answer why. It shows links between safety culture and improved productivity, quality and competitive position.

This concept moves us from measuring safety as specific outputs (such as low total recordable case rates), to understanding how to build an organizational system that effectively analyzes and controls the hazards associated with the organization’s operations.

This report reminds me of articles about quality control systems when Japanese auto companies shifted away from measuring specific outputs (such as low deviation rates), to concentrating more on understanding, controlling and improving processes used to accomplish work at a higher quality. This of course, resulted in the entire manufacturing industry changing its approach to quality control.

And it all starts with looking at business processes, and answering a simple question… Why?

When to Align Company Safety Policy and Company Culture

Friday, June 24th, 2011

In business, culture predicts outcome. For example, Adoflson & Peterson Construction, won the EHS 2010 America’s Safest Company Award. The company went on to  attain 4.4 million consecutive hours worked without a lost time accident. Another safe company finalist, Armstrong World Industries, Inc is ranked as a top 5 building products company, with the highest free cash flow per share rating. There are many more examples like these that demonstrate the positive relationship between strong safety cultures and successful business outcomes.

Best Practices
Company safety is a direct reflection of the decisions leaders make, the things they say, the systems they implement and oversee, and the value they place on safety with respect to other objectives. It is a combination of company policy- the official rules, and company culture- what employees actually do and say.

There should always be alignment between safety policies and company culture. If company culture doesn’t support all safety policies, then there is a problem.

Addressing the problem looks at the policy first. Ask two questions:

  • Is it in compliance with the latest regulatory updates?
  • Is it specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely (SMART)?

If the answer to either is no, then the policy needs to change.

If the problem is not the policy, then the culture needs to change. Safety isn’t something that can be delegated; it has to be part of workplace vales for everyone, from the CEO to each worker. If your company culture is not in alignment with company policy, it is time to change the culture.

How to Change Company Culture

Now is a perfect time for your company to adopt a safety culture. The process is different, depending on if your company is in a stage of growth or a stage of turbulence. If you have been with your company for more than a few years, you know about this. The chart below is from the classic resource, Evolution and Revolution as Organizations Grow. It is a model of how organizations develop. Basically, it shows that long stages of growth, or evolution, are interrupted by periods of turbulence, or revolution as a company adjusts to market pressures and the company’s growing size.

Approach for Stages of Evolution

During stages of evolution, business goes smoothly and market environments are healthy; profits come relatively easy. Generally, adopting a safety culture would look like a policy shift. To employees, the decision would look like a proactive investment in their well-being.  Characteristics of a change during evolution:

  • Usually starts with senior management
  • Employees see it as a policy shift
  • Focuses on goals like trust, innovation, or fairness

Approach for Stages of Revolution

Stages of revolution could also be called crisis situations. They can be a reaction to tougher markets- like a recession, or from internal pressures- like an unexpected spike in employee turnover. During a crisis, company policies and practices come under review, and companies that are unable to abandon past practices and adopt organizational changes are likely to either fold or level off in growth. The critical task for management is to find a new set of organizational practices that will become the basis for the next stage of growth.

Characteristics of a change during evolution:

  • Usually involves more levels of management
  • Employees see it as a break from current policy
  • Focuses on goals like team-building, management credibility, or precautionary steps

Adopting best safety practices at any time takes planning and tenacity. But it is worth it. Keep in mind the famous line from Tom Northup, a thought leader and author in organizational management, “All organizations are perfectly designed to get the results they are now getting. If we want different results, we must change the way we do things.”


The 100 Best Companies To Work For-Could Your Company Make The List?

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Fortune Magazine just published their annual listing of the 100 best companies to work for.  The companies run the gamut from services (law, accounting, consulting) to construction to non-profits to retail to hi-tech.  Healthcare and Professional Services are the most represented industries on the list but there are also three companies in the automotive market -#15 Mercedes-Benz USA#16 JM Family Enterprise and #81 CarMax.  So are you thinking, it’s easy for these big,  publicly traded companies to be a “best place to work” but not so easy for the average company? Think again, your company may not make Fortune’s list next year but you can learn from and implement the best practices that make a company a “best place to work. Why bother?  Being know as a “best place to work” locally, regionally or within an industry makes it easier to attract and retain the best employees, which has a direct positive impact on your company’s bottom line.  Companies on the “Best Companies to Work For” list have consistently outperform major stock indices since 1998. 

 So what makes a company a best place to work?  According to the Great Places to Work Institute to be a great place to work employees “”trust the people you work for, have pride in what you do, and enjoy the people you work with.”   The trust factor of an employee  is ” related to management’s credibility, job satisfaction, and camaraderie.”    Providing  fair and competitive pay and benefits, have good hiring practices,  open internal communications, abundant training opportunities, meaningful recognition programs and a committment to diversity all create a best place to work.   To learn more about how any company,  big or small,  in any industry can be a best place to work check out the Great Places to Work website at

Join the conversation: What makes a company a best place to work?

HR, Heart or Head?

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Is HR a job of the heart or of the mind?    It’s an interesting conundrum that many of us in HR got into it because we wanted to create dynamic and diverse workplaces filled with engaged employees and ended up being the “enforcer” or the “paper pusher”.  It is  possible to do both- ensure compliance with the rules and regulations and create a place the employees want to work and those objectives are actually complimentary.  HR can make a difference in both the bottom line (no lawsuits and engaged employees improves profits) and in the lives of the employees  by creating and fostering a fair, diverse and motivational workplace.

Need a refresher or some new ideas about how to use both your head and your heart?   Interested in how HR can be the “moral compass” of the company?  Take a look at  Leading With Your Heart. The Society for Human Resources (SHRM) notes “HR professionals will find Leading With Your Heart instrumental in bridging the gap between the idealized expectations of the C-suite and the pressing realities of needing to get the job done at the line manager and local levels”.

Be the first person share your thought on is HR a job for heart or heads or both and I’ll send you a free copy of “Leading With Your Heart”.

About the Authors of Leading With Your Heart

Cari M. Dominguez is the owner of Dominguez & Associates, a management consulting firm that provides selective services in the areas of workforce assessments and diversity evaluations. Dominguez serves on several for profit and nonprofit boards and has numerous professional affiliations. Her public service includes being the former Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), and Department of Labor’s Assistant Secretary for the Employment Standards Administration. In the private sector she was a partner and director at two international executive search firms and held a number of senior human resources positions with Bank of America, where she had responsibility for EEO, succession planning, executive compensation, and talent development.

Judith (Jude) Sotherlund, president of Sotherlund Consulting, is a corporate consultant and published author. Her public service includes serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment Standards and as a Staff Assistant in the Office of Communications at The White House. Private-sector experience includes Vice President of Employment Advisory Services Inc., a senior consultant to the Equal Employment Advisory Council (EEAC), and Director of Communications for the National Committee for Quality Health Care.

Do Well By Doing Good- Employee Volunteer Programs Give Back Big Dividends

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Volunteering as a group is a great team building activity or even a holiday party replacement.  Recently the marketing department at KPA sponsored a fund raiser (“Holiday Soup Kitchen”) at the headquarter office for the Food Bank of Larimer County and the Community Food Share of Boulder County. Beyond raising over $400, which was matched by the company, the fundraiser gave the marketing team to work together on a project of their choosing;  highlighted latent talents (we have some good cooks at KPA); provided a fun opportunity for all of the headquarters staff to get together during the holiday in a casual atmosphere while helping other less fortunate in the community.   Developing or expanding your organization’s volunteer program is a sure fire way to increase employee’s morale, reinforce corporate values,  show corporate responsibility and make your company more appealing to possible new hires.   64% of all executives say employee volunteer programs contribution to the company bottom line. Among executives at large companies, 84% see direct bottom-line benefits according to the Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College and Business Civic Leadership Center.

Ready to start doing well by doing good?  Check out these resources:

If you are curious about the KPA Holiday Soup Kitchen- it is a very simple fundraiser to put on.  A department or group of employees the executive staff for example) volunteers to bring in various homemade soups, breads and desserts.  Soups are great for office parties because they can be kept warm in a crock pot and you don’t need access to a full kitchen. Publish the event so that everyone plans to “eat in” on that day.  Employees donate what they chose to- no pressure- while enjoying the company of others.   Simple, fun and effective!

Join the conversation: Does your company have an employee volunteer program, and if so what are some ideas for volunteering?

Beyond Improving Profits – Safety Culture Is a Key Benefit for Employees

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Creating a positive safety culture is one of the most important things you can do for your employees. The benefits of a strong safety culture go beyond reduction in insurance premiums, limiting exposure to fines and lawsuits and reducing time lost to an accident. A safe and healthy workplace shows that you care about the well being of your employees. Employees are happiest and most productive in a workplace where they have a high degree of trust in management. A positive safety culture is an important factor in confirming management’s commitment to employees.

Notice I said creating a positive safety culture is important for employee well being not just creating safety programs. Safety programs provide the structure required to manage safety in your organization and are a key component in developing a rewarding safety culture, but a good safety culture also emphasizes a shared vision between management and employees, strong employee involvement, and behavioral based safety training.

There are several key elements to creating a positive safety culture:

  • Management, at all levels, must be involved and participate in the safety program to show they genuinely care about the well being and safety of every employee.
  • Management and employees must participate together in collaborative problem solving to identify safe and unsafe behavior.
  • All employees should receive high quality safety training (consider hiring an expert third party) and follow training with ongoing coaching and on the job training from all levels in the organization.
  • Operational processes and policies must be established that ensure that safety is always at the forefront of any action or activity.
  • All employees must be empowered to report and when necessary act on unsafe behavior, and identified issues must be quickly addressed by management.

To learn more about creating and maintaining a strong safety culture check out these free resources: or

Join the conversation: What do you believe to be the most important element in creating a positive safety culture?

Live Long and Prosper- Corporate Wellness Programs

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Is it possible to have healthy employees and a healthily bottom line?  With ever increasing healthcare insurance costs, reported obesity rate of 1 in 3 adults, and a rapidly aging workforce it would certainly seem that improving the health of employees would be good for the employees and good for the company. In fact the Healthy People 2010 program managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services set a goal of:

  • 75% of all employers, regardless of size, providing wide reaching corporate wellness programs
  • 75% of all a company’s staff participating in employer-sponsored corporate wellness programs.

When implementing a corporate program you do need to be careful in how the program is designed and employee participation handled.  Otherwise it can become yet another area for claims of employment discrimination and the violation of employee privacy.    Corporate wellness programs can easily run afoul of the law despite of the best of intentions because multiple federal laws come into play.  The Congressional Research Service recently issued a report on where these programs and federal law intersect. The report discusses the challenges employees face in implementation a program while not discriminating against employees and complying with HIPAA requirements.  The report is available at

Two resources on best practices for corporate wellness programs are Infinite Wellness Solution’s Wellness Solutions Guide and the HRM Report on Corporate Wellness.

Join the conversation: do you have a corporate wellness program or plan to implement one in 2011?