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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Alert24 - Safeguard Update

Helping SMEs to change

Helping SMEs to change
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Publication Date:
New Zealand

The real challenge of helping small to medium businesses tackle health and safety isn’t anything technical, it’s about helping them to embrace change, according to a speaker at September’s SIA National Safety Convention in Sydney.

Andrew Barrett, from consultancy Fidesa, offered four ideas to contemplate. First, tell stories, and make them rich, engaging and personal. Second, be brief. “This one will set you free. Brevity is really important. Say as little as you possibly can.”

Third is communicating to convert, as all H&S people are really in sales and marketing. Video, he said, is the most shared type of online content. If someone has shared your content it means they have taken the time to evaluate it – and they’re doing your job for you. He advised people to think about the types of engaging content they use, and to transfer from low-engagement forms to high-engagement forms.

Fourth is the need to lead change, which he described as the core role of the H&S practitioner. He used an elephant analogy to describe the process of enabling a person to decide to change: a small, rational side (the elephant rider); a large, emotional side (the elephant); and the pathway along which change proceeds.

The challenge: how to appeal to an SME owner’s rational side when they have too much to do and not enough time? His approach is to write up words – vision, engagement, risk management, preparedness, responsiveness, learning, checking – each with “health and safety” in front of them.

“Then we cross out the ‘health and safety’ bit, and the logical side of the owner starts to get excited because it broadens beyond H&S.”

Engaging the elephant – the emotional side – is all about taking a personal, ‘you can do it’ approach, which Barrett described as a coaching process, not a consulting process – because consulting reinforces helplessness.

As for the pathway, he dismissed the common mantra that “the path of health and safety has no end” as far too demotivating. Best to just do one thing – the first thing. Then the second thing, then the third, and so on. Celebrate each little milestone, and watch motivation grow. “Change becomes contagious, it becomes the social norm.”

A final tip: help a business owner come up with their own H&S vision in their own words. Write it down, and share it with others – staff, customers, family – so the vision is embedded and the programme of change becomes sustainable.



People Mentioned:
Andrew Barrett;
Organisations Mentioned:
Safety Institute of Australia; Fidesa
Reference No:

From Alert24 - Safeguard Update

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