By: Curtis Haugen
Employees come to work expecting to find a safe and secure place to perform their jobs.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other agencies require employers to provide a safe work environment.
This is where the challenge of effective communication often is put to the test.
• Increased cultural diversity in the workforce that introduces different cultural values, expectations, and understandings.
• Media reports that seem to endorse animosity, harassment, and separation through misleading facts.
• Short, abbreviated texts and posts that many employees rely on to create their interpretation of an event.
Communication experts predict that these challenges are expected to continue in all workplaces.
Employers generally do not have control over individual values, what news sources publish, and what social media posts.
However, businesses can manage what is acceptable and appropriate communication in their workplaces.
A clear understanding of what their businesses do, how they do it, and what they expect from their employees will help protect their workplaces from distracting and damaging social scuffles.
What happens at work must be work-related and done as a team to promote employee and customer trust and support.
If these values are emphasized every day and in every transaction, they will become part of a company’s culture, its security, and its safety.
Here are some key areas where employers can use good communication to create and maintain a safe, secure, and productive workplace.
Mission statement. A clear statement of purpose and values and an expression of desire and intent is where successful companies create energy, motivate their employees, and define their culture.
Hiring policies and procedures. Clearly defined employment policies must be introduced, understood, and followed by every candidate from the very beginning of a company’s hiring process to develop trust and ongoing respect.
Workplace requirements and guidelines. Every position must have clearly defined requirements and guidelines that are followed throughout a work period and reiterated during department meetings and individual job evaluations, including activities, conversations, and actions that do not belong in the workplace.
Encourage employee feedback. If employees are assured that communication and feedback are welcome, mutual, and expected, they will operate on this basis and will seek supervisory support, if they sense mistrust or a lack of safe feelings.
Zero tolerance for workplace violations. Enforcing zero tolerance for workplace violations is the strongest support management can give a company’s mission, values, and culture. This is critical.
Since a workplace is not the ideal venue for discussing politics, religion, or personal beliefs, companies can avoid misunderstandings and business interruptions by encouraging their employees to participate in community groups that have the time and place to discuss and support personal beliefs.
Curtis M. Haugen is CEO and operations director for S’Curo Group, LLC, Middleton, WI; 608-354-6082.