Lessons from COVID-19 and effective large scale communication
Communicating critical safety messages to a large scale workforce has always proven challenging for employers with high volumes of staff spread across multiple sites.
This post looks at the success of the government throughout the COVID-19 experience in large scale safety communication and what techniques can be applied by volume employers to the workplace when communicating with their high volumes of workers spread across many site locations.
The Cost of Poor Communication Relating to Workplace Safety
It is clear that the annual bill to the national economy from workplace accidents in terms of lost time and productivity, pain and suffering and social dislocation can be measured in the many billions of dollars. It is therefore a very significant cost to our economy and threat to our overall standard of living and national prosperity. The circle of persons who might be adversely impacted by poor workplace safety is broad including the individual, their families, close associates and co-workers.
How can we learn from the current crisis when analysing communication processes within our own workforce?
During the current COVID-19 criss, the calls to action from the Australian Government have so far proven to be effective in addressing the issues and convincing an entire population to change entrenched behaviours and to adopt higher levels of vigilance.
What can we learn from the government’s communication strategies when communicating with our own large scale workforces?
Deliver Information from Trusted Sources
Messages about workplace safety should come from a trusted source. In a workplace this could be the National Compliance Manager, Workplace Health and Safety Manager or another known authority within the business who is a qualified workplace health and safety professional. Disseminating alerts of this nature has proven to be most effective in the workplace coming from Senior Management and qualified senior OH&S professionals within the organisation.
Provide Information Through the Right Medium
Email is not always the best way to communicate with your workforce. Many industrial workers rarely check their email, with most employees relying on their phones to receive information from employers via call and text. It is important to note that not everyone has access to a phone that has email.
Notifying employees of when an alert is scheduled allows them to keep an eye out for the notification, which makes it more likely they will take notice of it when it comes through.
When do you know most of your employees will be available to receive the message? For our own workforce, tea-break and lunchtime are the best times to communicate important information with employees, as this is when almost all of them are looking at their phones. Pre and post-work communication with employees has proven less effective, as employees are less inclined to pay attention to work related matters during these hours.
Short, Sharp and to the Point
The messages should be brief and to the point, requiring minimal effort to take in the point of communication and understand
Clear and Simple Call to Action
What is the call to action for your workforce? The calls to action must be simple and achievable on an individual level. The worker must clearly understand what simple action they need to take to have a positive impact on their own safety.