3 min read

Using Culture to Build Better Safety Programs & Buy-In from Employees

A lot of companies talk about their culture. But how many of them are really taking the steps needed to get that buy-in and trust from the top down?

If you walk the walk, you’ll reap the benefits. But it takes more work than most are willing to put in. 

We speak with Brent Bayliff, Director of Safety and Insurance at Beachner Grain, Inc., about building company culture and why it’s helped create a sustainable safety program.

Join us as we discuss:

  • Why a good company culture leads to a sustained safety program
  • Handling disciplinary action with a mentoring attitude
  • How to build trust between the top & bottom of the organization
  • An actionable step for the audience to walk the walk w/ culture

Why a good company culture leads to a sustained safety program

If you’re trying to build a better safety program for your organization, but you don't have the buy-in from your employees, it won’t matter how many procedures and protocols you improve — better safety programs begin with better culture. 

“If you don't have company culture buy-in, your people aren’t being safe on a daily basis.

— Brent Bayliff

But better culture isn’t something that can be corrected once and then never again. It requires constant attention from employers — Getting in front of their employees regularly and involving them wherever possible.

So when we talk of buy-in, it begins when employees are included in the safety program, beginning to end. Rather than surprising employees with new procedures that they’re required to follow, involve them from the beginning. 

Not only will you get valuable feedback that can improve the program, but those employees will have a sense of ownership that couldn’t happen if they find out after the program has been doled out. 

When it comes to culture, people want to be treated with respect. So, whenever you plan to integrate a new program or protocol, imagine yourself in their position.


How to build trust

For Brent, that means being available to his employees whenever he can, so those informal conversations can happen: The ones that build a channel of trust to discuss and correct mistakes when necessary. 

Another way Brent is standing out: 24 hour, 7 days a week phone access. Stressed from day one of employment, if someone has a question, they’re encouraged to pick up the phone and call. 

His favorite line: “If we don’t know it’s broken, we can’t fix it.”


Handling disciplinary action with a mentoring attitude

As you’re building trust, however, there will be bumps in the road when it comes to disciplinary action. Mistakes will be made, but that doesn’t have to mean a break in trust. 

Brent describes the right and wrong way to handle discipline:

  • Wrong way: A “slap on the wrist” approach where the mistake is addressed but with no further follow-up.
  • Right way: Address the problem and create a teachable moment so that the mistake isn’t made again.

Imagine an employee who misunderstood a procedure when it was first explained to them. So, when they make a mistake because of the misunderstanding, the wrong approach will do nothing but hurt that employee’s relationship with management. 

However, by addressing the mistake and helping the employee understand, the mistake is rectified for the future and that employee is now closer to management because of the effort taken to listen. 

“I don't fear failure. I fear not to act on those failures.” — Brent Bayliff


How to build trust between the top & bottom of the organization

A common issue for top management is connecting with the lower end employees, especially when they don’t have an immediate message to give to those people. 

Brent’s advice — Have your managers and supervisors host a Monday meeting. It’s not as important what the conversation is, as long as the employees are engaged with the conversation. The minute you have a ten year employee and a one day employee talking on the same level, you’re taking your first big step towards a better culture. 


An actionable step for the audience to walk the walk w/ culture

Not everyone has the same opportunity to start fresh with a good culture. Maybe culture hasn’t been as much of a priority as it should’ve been; or maybe your culture is fine but you want to bring it to the next level. For whatever reason, if you’re trying to build a better culture, Brent shares a way to start building the culture you want tomorrow:

You have to eat an elephant one bite at a time — Pick a piece and go at it. It might take 6 months to solve, but if you don't separate your problems into manageable pieces, you’ll stay in a constant state of overwhelm.  

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