Chapter Corner

Safety, Productivity, & Morale are Connected

Posted in: Features, May/June 2015

MO•RALE. n. 
The state of a person or group as exhibited by confidence, cheerfulness, discipline, and willingness to perform assigned tasks.

PRO•DUC•TIV•I•TY. n.
The quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services.

SAFE•TY. n. 
The condition of being safe; freedom from danger, risk, or injury.

We have all been on a jobsite where the morale was not good. People hated going to work, they didn't want to be there when they were at work, and all they could think about all day was getting away from work. These jobsites were always less productive because most felt that the job was not worth any extra effort, and anything that they said or did was more likely to get them in trouble. These jobs also create more work-related accidents since people are not focused on what they are doing, are easily distracted, and in some instances, people feel that if they are injured they will be allowed to "get away from the job for a while." Poor morale on the jobsite is like a cancer; left alone it will spread until it kills the job.

On the other hand, when morale is good on the jobsite, people work together, look out for each other, and are willing to put out the extra effort to see that not only the job but also their fellow employees succeed. People enjoy going to work to see what new challenges await, knowing that they will earn respect and appreciation for doing a good job. While on the job they pay attention to their work and their coworkers, willing to do whatever is needed to make sure that everyone completes their tasks and is able to go home each day safely. Each employee is willing to lend their advice or help to teach other employees the safe and correct way to get the job done.

So, the question is, how do we ensure that we achieve the desired "good morale" on our jobsite? Here are several points that may help.

Respect

Respect is earned, not automatically given! Also, remember that respect is a two-way street. If you want respect, you must first give respect. Start by treating others the way you would like to be treated. Put forth your best effort in everything that you do, and respond to others when they do the same.

Communicate

Good, quality communication is key to successful implementation. When you communicate with others, take the time to make sure that they understood what you were saying. Have them repeat the instructions back to you, listen when they speak, and pay attention to them. Good communication skills start with the ability to be an active listener. When others are speaking to you, focus on them and what they are saying; repeat what is important to make sure that they really do understand.

Praise

We have all heard the saying, "Praise in public, criticize in private," but how often is that the way it is actually done? Some people feel that praising other employees is only the responsibility of management, but that is not the case. All of us should take an active role in recognizing superior performance. When you see someone doing something that deserves praise, don't wait for the foreman to say something, start the ball rolling yourself. Praise is something that we all crave, so "praise in public," and do it OFTEN. When someone does not meet expectations or fails to perform as desired, critiques are often required. When critiquing another person, do it away from others and try to make it a positive instead of a negative.

Strive to Do The Job Right

Although doing the job right should start with the project manager and foreman doing a good pre-planning, it doesn't stop there. A good pre-plan for the job is only successful if everyone understands, accepts, and applies the plan. Start by ensuring that everyone understands the overall plan and goal for the day. Communicate the goals and expectations to everyone on the site. From the apprentice up, we should always have a plan for what task we are assigned. Make sure that you understand the expectations and develop your own plan to meet those expectations. Make sure that you have all of the materials and tools necessary to complete the task and if you have any questions ASK!

The best safety policies, procedures, and programs are meaningless, if the employees working on the site do not have the right attitude. In today's work environment, we all strive to achieve a safety culture that will drive our programs to success. The key ingredient to a safety culture is having the proper mind set established with all of our employees. Achieving good morale on the site is the best way to get to the correct safety culture that we need. There are many other ways to achieve good morale, but if we start by applying these few goals, the rest will fall into place. We can succeed, but only if we work together for success.

Chuck Belveal is a master electrician with more than 30 years of experience in the electrical industry. He has more than 12 years of experience in the field as a Regional Safety Manager for a major electrical contractor. He is a member of the IEC National Apprenticeship & Training Committee and the IEC National Safety Committee.