ROAR for Good explains how employers can create a safe and empowering workplace.
As every good manager knows, leadership doesn’t include just giving directions and orders. It’s much more than that, actually — a good leader needs to understand their employees, inspire them, and make use of their strengths. On top of that, it’s the manager’s task to create an environment conducive to productivity. And such a thing is possible only if the employees feel empowered and safe.
But as you can imagine, turning your workplace into a safe space can be quite challenging. For that reason, we’ve come up with four tips to help you create a safe and empowering workplace atmosphere. Read on to find out more!
1. Show Your Employees That Their Voice Matters
If you want your employees to openly speak to you about any issues they’re facing, it’s not enough to just tell them. Instead, you need to show them that you’ll listen and take them seriously no matter what they approach you with. Be there for your employees when they need you, and they’ll feel much more empowered in their workplace.
But at the same time, don’t forget to encourage a similar atmosphere among the employees themselves, as well as other managers. They shouldn’t only be comfortable talking to you, but also to their other colleagues. That way, an atmosphere of trust and companionship can be fostered, leading to much higher job satisfaction and workplace safety.
2. Recognise Your Employees’ Efforts
An older school of management believed that giving positive feedback wasn’t that necessary. If an employee was doing a good job, they’d know it simply by the fact their manager didn’t criticise them. Praise was given only in exceptional cases but never on a day-to-day basis.
Things have changed, though, and expectations are now different. Of course, no employee expects you to give them praise every single day. But if you never show any appreciation for their efforts, they’ll simply conclude you’re not happy with their performance. That quickly creates an atmosphere of tension and resentment that isn’t conducive to honesty and trust whatsoever.
Luckily, the solution here is quite simple. Keep an eye on your employees’ performance and progress, and remember to acknowledge them once in a while. It doesn’t have to be in the form of a raise or a reward — sometimes it’s enough to tell them they did a good job. Knowing that they’re on the right track will help them stay motivated.
In addition, your recognition and appreciation won’t go unnoticed either. By showing what your employees’ efforts mean to you, you’ll build a better rapport with them in no time. Then, in case they ever have a problem or need anything, they’ll be more likely to come to you.
3. Show That You Take Their Safety Seriously
The best way to make your employees feel safe at their workplace is, of course, to show that their safety matters to you. In other words, you need to take actual measures to ensure no harm comes to them as they go about their daily tasks.
The kind of measures you choose to implement will depend on your workplace type. In some cases, you may need to provide your employees with some sort of protective gear. In others, you’ll need to instruct them on how to safely use their equipment. And no matter what kind of a place you work in, you have to teach your workers what to do in an emergency.
Usually, that will involve training sessions on what to do when the fire alarm goes off and where to find the nearest exit. However, you can also teach them how to use the Bluetooth alert button — a portable emergency device that, when pressed, alerts security. Thanks to its size, this button is virtually invisible and thus indispensable in case someone attacks one of your employees.
Ultimately, take the time to think about your employees’ workplace safety and talk to them about it. They might give you further insight — for instance, tell you what makes them feel unsafe and what you could do to help. In the end, working together is bound to bring some great results.
4. Work On Building Trust
Trust is the bond that keeps a team together, so you need to build and nourish it whenever you can. You may be meeting your employees and co-workers only in the professional setting, but that doesn’t mean your relationship has to be surface level. Having people at work that you can genuinely talk to and rely on is invaluable, not just to you but also to your workers.
So, encourage open conversations, listening to each other, and acknowledging both strengths and weaknesses. Lead by example — you need to be willing to be open and honest first, and only then expect your employees to do the same. If you don’t practice what you preach, no one else will want to either.
And remember — building trust takes time. Don’t expect your new team members to immediately be comfortable sharing their work-related issues. Show them that they can, but don’t push them into it if they don’t want to. Ultimately, be empathetic and treat your employees the way you’d like to be treated.
Workplace safety isn’t just about security cameras, fire alarms, and protective gadgets. While all these things are helpful, fostering an atmosphere of trust and confidence is just as important. It encourages people to open up and tell you exactly what makes them feel unsafe at work. Then, you can address that specific thing and resolve the issue much more effectively.
In short, if you want to be a good manager, listen to your employees. You’re not there just to lead them but also to learn from them. And the more you work together, the better for your company!