Over the past few years, employees everywhere have endured a significant uptick in crises that threaten personal safety as well as their general ability to perform a job. From severe weather and natural disasters to workplace violence and civil unrest to an uncertain economy, employees are taking note of today’s increasingly dangerous world.
According to an AlertMedia report, 97% of Americans say it’s always important to feel safe at work. But while safety is extremely important to employees, many feel as though their well-being is less of a priority for employers. In fact, 75% of U.S. employees are not satisfied with their employer’s safety efforts, and 71% report that their employers are not following through on safety promises.
Employees need more consistent safety training
Safety training is crucial for general employee well-being as well as an operationally sound workplace. However, employees have felt a decline in attention to safety training across the board. According to the report, 42% of employees said safety training makes them feel more prepared for emergencies, yet 64% believe their organizations are not actively trying to improve safety training today. Furthermore, those that do receive regular, mandatory safety training feel nearly 30% more prepared to handle a crisis than those who don't.
With the increase in threats, along with a more dispersed workforce, employees’ ability to navigate emergencies impacts business operations now more than ever–and they have a desire for more training. Security and safety leaders can increase engagement and employees’ ability to retain information by breaking training up into smaller sessions and implementing more interactive exercises that reflect real-world scenarios.
Employees want better emergency communication
A large majority (83%) of respondents have experienced an emergency while working, and 46% of employees say the world is more dangerous today than it was a few years ago. While safety remains top-of-mind for employees even as the pandemic takes a step back in the public consciousness, only 58% believe their physical well-being is a top priority for their employer. The good news is that the top two ways employers can make employees feel like they genuinely care about their safety are to improve communication about safety plans and to be more transparent about workplace incidents.
Additionally, employee safety directly correlates with organizational stability from both a culture and a financial standpoint. The study shows that communication is the number one way that organizations can make employees feel like their safety is a business priority. In fact, nearly half (46%) of employees say safety is a priority consideration when assessing whether or not to stay with their employer long-term.
Employees want their employers to value psychological safety
The Great Resignation spurred a mental wellness and psychological safety revolution in the workplace that benefited employees in many ways. But while 77% of employees today say that psychological safety is just as high of a priority as physical safety at work, they don’t see the same level of commitment from their employers.
In fact, many believe their mental health is the lowest priority to their employers while productivity is currently the highest. Today, 66% of employees say their employer is not making an active effort to support their mental health. Sixty-two percent say their organization does not provide resources for mental health and 67% say their workplace culture does not allow for open dialogue about mental health.
Physical safety and psychological safety are directly interconnected. Studies show that when employees feel safe overall, collaboration and productivity increase. Better training and communication — from effective emergency communication to regular conversations about how employees are feeling — is the foundation of building a safe, culturally strong and organizationally resilient workplace.
It’s time for employers to double down on safety
It’s imperative for employers to prioritize more efficient, empathetic and consistent communication with employees. The ability to communicate with the right people at the right time during an emergency saves lives, minimizes damage and empowers employees to make the best decisions for their well-being and for the business.
Employers should also reiterate that employees’ mental health and holistic well-being is just as important as avoiding physical injuries and more obvious safety incidents. Those that do stand to benefit from a loyal, engaged workforce. Those who don’t may find themselves at the back of the line searching for talent as economic conditions improve.