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Employee engagement enhances workplace safety

Posted On: Nov. 8, 2017 9:34 AM CST

Employee engagement enhances workplace safety

INDIANAPOLIS — Employee engagement and emotional attachment to a job are crucial parts of workplace safety, according to an expert speaking Tuesday at the 2017 IRMI Construction Risk Conference in Indianapolis.

Employee engagement is not simply liking your job, said Daniel S. McGarvey, Greenville, South Carolina-based managing director of the U.S. power and utility practice at Marsh L.L.C., speaking at a session of the annual gathering sponsored by the International Risk Management Institute Inc. Employee engagement means an emotional commitment, someone who seeks to understand the business, and someone who is willing to go above and beyond, he said.

An engaged employee will ask questions that can possibly prevent safety risks. Workers who only focus on their role on the job site and have “tunnel vision” are not engaged workers, according to Mr. McGarvey.

“We have had claims related to construction where the workers at some point will have to say they basically knew something was wrong, but they kept doing it because that’s what the client said, and it wasn’t their job to ask questions. The engaged employee will ask questions,” he said.

How engaged workers are directly affects absenteeism, turnover rates and productivity, according to Mr. McGarvey. Members of an engaged workforce are 50% less likely to have workplace injuries, according research from Washington-based Gallup Inc.

Employers can learn about their workers’ level of engagement through surveys, but to improve employee engagement employers should try to understand their employees, work on building a collaborative team, express positive reinforcement, give workers the tool that they need to do their job, and find a way to let workers play to their strengths, according to Mr. McGarvey.

“What we try to do with actively disengaged colleagues is to get them involved in the decision-making process, make them feel more like a part of the team … the more involved someone gets, the more they tend to have a positive outlook,” he said.