Engage for positive change

Our latest guest blog is from Roisin Kelly CMIOSH.  Roisin is HSEQ Manager for Balfour Beatty CLG and in this post she looks at a simple approach which can get the best out of employees…

Many years ago, I had an overbearing colleague who would continuously update the team on how much time was left to the end of our shift. This commentary, drip-drip-dripping over an eight-hour period, did little to motivate me personally.

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Was this commentary the result of how our employer engaged with the workforce? Creating conditions that encouraged workers to ‘wish’ their shift away? Or was this ‘just’ someone’s personal style? Putting irritation to one side, it did prompt me to reflect on other ways in which I could bring the best out in the people I worked with, and then the change happened!

Simple approaches work. Saying ‘Hi, are you ok?’, and then taking the time to listen, establishes a connection that can reap the rewards of reduced absenteeism (without presenteeism), reduced employee turnover and number of workplace incidents, whilst creating conditions that allow people and the organisation to thrive.

Creating the right conditions doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply reassuring people that they are doing their job right, with some positive reinforcement, is all it takes. We found that people who felt understood and valued were much more likely to stay with the organisation, so it was a win-win for all of us. As we all got better at working with each other, the confidence to innovate grew, and people moved beyond the basic requirements of their roles. If things went wrong people worked together to understand the reasons why, and what they would do differently next time around. For me, this was an indication that people were connecting to each other and the organisation as a whole.

These simple approaches began to underpin the way our organisation moved forward.

With a focus on leadership and commitment, and with consultation and participation of workers in ISO45001, organisations that get engagement ‘right’ are at the leading edge, retaining staff in times of labour shortages, developing talent across the working life, to the benefit of both individuals and their organisation.

My message is that if you are looking to make a genuine difference, it pays to go to the source and understand the local culture in each business unit, then blend what you learn into an overall approach to engagement.

As a Chartered member of IOSH, a blend of technical and soft skills helped me clear the hurdle of the unengaged…the ability to listen, focus and create positive change sustains me, and helps me drip feed my team with positive messages. This is reflected in their energy, drive and motivation.

I’m happy to share my approach, and would welcome the chance to chat.


LSP-Kelly-Roisin-00012-EditRoisin Kelly CMIOSH is HSEQ Manager for Balfour Beatty CLG; a joint venture working on behalf of Gas Networks Ireland in the Republic of Ireland. Roisin is passionate about engaging with and learning from the people at the pulse of the work, behavioural safety and mental health. Experience tells her that in order to create positive change and an engaging culture it must be the right fit, be measured and owned by the audience, not driven for statistics. She shares with us some of her learnings and tips on employee engagement to date and why everyone should be on board for positive change.

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