Implementing Best Practices for ANY SIZE COMPANY
Balancing environmental, health and safety (EHS) compliance with maximized productivity and revenue generation is a constant challenge for NORA members. Companies of all sizes struggle with how to operate within everchanging regulations while staying in business. Often, companies fail to increase awareness of their company’s commitment to compliance. This is especially true for small to mid-size businesses without robust EHS support teams. However, in today’s transparent marketplace, operating in regulatory compliance is simply the table stakes. How do you take it the next level and drive a corporate culture of EHS excellence? What do you need when launching a branded EHS Program?
A Branded EHS Program Requires Leadership Wide Commitment
Making your EHS commitment a staple of its value proposition and brand identity separates you from the competition. That brand identity attracts investors as well. Of course, any EHS professional will tell you this only works when leadership is aligned and committed to improvement. This alignment involves first taking care of the “low hanging fruit” such as program documentation, employee training and otherwise basic blocking and tackling of a functional EHS program. But what if your company ownership wants to drive an EHS focused culture beyond the basics, but just does not know what to actually do to make it happen? One tried-and-true practice is launching a branded EHS program. It is an effort to display executive commitment to systematically and publicly doing the job right. You incorporate your commitment to something already mandated, and you do so in a highly visible, internal brand. That gives your employees a purpose to rally around and take pride in, followed by a boost in employee morale.
What Does a Branded EHS Program Look Like?
Everyone has seen such programs, many of which refer to employee safety. Some examples are: “Safety First”, “Arrive Alive”, or “Zero Incidents is the Goal”. Branded safety programs often start with a logo and slogan. The logo is easier than it sounds – freelance graphic artists and logo production websites are readily available online. Typically, the slogans speak to the employees, play off an existing company tagline or otherwise relate to the business. Companies often also have branded programs that go beyond safety to environmental compliance and ethical business practices. For example, a logistics company, let’s name it Haul Co., could use something like “EHS Excellence – Everyday. Guaranteed.” Such a headline would allow for Haul Co management to generate a wide variety of programs and content under the umbrella of EHS and business excellence. Program goals are to engage employees, increase productivity, minimize risk and improve morale. Once a program is properly branded, employees instantly recognize the brand on all communications and facility signage as a constant and unwavering reminder to do it right.
Keeping the Program Momentum Going
Once Haul Co has established branded program, what can they do to keep up program momentum? Here is a list of initiatives that they might consider:
- Communication Plan – Develop a consistent cadence of regularly scheduled, succinct and related communications that underscore management’s commitment and highlight employee actions. These communications should leverage social media, including direct video communication. It only takes an i-phone and a YouTube account to make a serious impact on your workforce.
- Visual Management – Always make sure all locations have the proper regulatory signage, but also have posters and banners carrying key messages of the branded program. This is a daily reminder that do it right matters to management.
- Deep Dive Assessment – Engage a third party to undertake comprehensive EHS assessment and evaluation of the current state of compliance so you can set a baseline and manage improvement. If done under the banner of a branded program, employees will be much more likely to embrace such an audit.
- Create Feedback Loop – Think of it as a modern-day suggestion box. Allow your employees to share ideas, concerns, insights and best practices about the things that matter to them. Then, of course, be prepared to act on those comments.
- Development Recognition Program – People want to feel appreciated. Incorporating recognition or rewards in your branded program can be extremely effective in employee engagement. It offers the added benefit of praising the unsung compliance champions that help drive the business forward.
- Tell the Marketplace – Integration of branded program related messages into sales, training and other collateral will help maximize the value of your commitment and can be a very impactful message to your customers, insurers and communities.
A branded program helps establish a new company tone from the top, in which leadership is aligned. Safety, compliance, and ethical behavior must be an essential part of their management style. A branded program is more than an awareness campaign when designed to enhance corporate culture of EHS excellence minimizing risk. It is also an excellent way to set a proactive tone for the entire organization. Operating safely and in compliance everyday drives market identity, profitability and morale.
Written by Chip Duffie, President and founder of EHS Momentum, L.L.C.
Edited by Jo Gardner