One of the hardest parts about starting a safety committee is getting employees to volunteer. You get approval, put up notices, and talk it up, but all you get are crickets. Everyone likes the idea but no one signs up!
Maybe the reason is they don’t want to do any extra work; they just want to come in and do their jobs and go home. It could be they don’t see the value in joining the committee.
So you eventually you end up resorting to the only other option you have left. Instead of volunteers you get members who were VOLUNTOLD.
HERE ARE SOME TIPS TO MOVE OUT OF VOLUNTOLD
Sometimes you have to resort to voluntold; in some cases you may even have to start with voluntold. But the best members are the ones who want to be there. Try a few of these ideas to get them on your committee.
SEARCH FOR ONLY ONE MEMBER FIRST – THE CHAIRPERSON
Safety Committee’s should not be run by the safety manager, they are employee committees and should have an employee leader. Post for this volunteer position. Lay out the skills needed to be a chairperson and the responsibilities. Make it look enticing. You could even use an application and interview process.
Once the chairperson is selected (also choose a co-chair from the applicants), then use that chairperson and co-chair to help get volunteers for the committee. They can encourage others to join.
USE AN APPLICATION PROCESS
Making people apply and possibly interview to get onto the safety committee makes it more desirable. People want things they can’t have. When anybody can join the committee at anytime, then there is no urgency, they may wait by the sidelines to see how it goes. This is related to point #3.
LIMIT THE MEMBERSHIP
I know what you are thinking – you can barely get members, why do I want to limit my numbers?
You can’t let everyone onto the committee. For one, the business still needs to run and can’t stop so everyone can be at the meeting. But, more importantly, if you limit how many people can be on there, it makes it more exclusive and more desirable.
I would suggest one person from each area of your business; not necessarily departments cause they can be huge. But the different areas within the department. And don’t forget to include office staff, they always bring a fresh set of eyes to operational problems and a different skill set.
Allowing just one person per area means that they only have a 1 in 25-50 chance of being selected. This makes getting onto the committee feel more like a competition.
SELL THE BENEFITS OF BEING ON SAFETY COMMITTEE
You have to sell them on the WHY and if you don’t know that why yourself, you’re in trouble.
The benefits must be personal to the employee and not the business. You can’t just say that being part of safety committee helps reduce injuries for the company. They don’t care – they don’t think they will get injured and the company’s well-being isn’t high in their priority list.
So sell them on all the other benefits, here are a few to think about:
- Ability to effect change in your working environment, making your job more enjoyable
- Learn leadership skills that may help you in the future
- Opportunity for more advanced training
- Break up the monotony of your everyday tasks
- Be a visible leader in your department
- Work on improvement projects
- Voice your concerns to management and be part of the solution
***side note here***
Safety Committee members tend to be our Leaders of Tomorrow. When management positions open up to internal candidates, usually committee members are chosen. Not because they are on the committee, but because of the skills gained/shown in committee and the fact they already engaged in the business.
LISTEN TO YOUR COMMITTEE AND TRY OUT THEIR SUGGESTIONS
No one wants to offer a suggestion just to see management knock them down. Employees have to see that you listen to the committee to want to be part of it.
So regardless of how much you think their idea won’t work or if you have already tried it and it failed – you make every effort to try it out. As long as it won’t be detrimental to the business and not too costly, YOU DO IT. This is extremely important in the beginning.
As employees see that you are listening to the committee, they will be more apt to join. Everyone wants to be on the winning team; and committees that are getting it done are winners.
BRAG ABOUT WHAT YOUR COMMITTEE IS DOING
If all of a sudden you are asking for volunteers and no one even knew you had a committee, that’s an issue. Bragging is more than just posting the meeting minutes. This is flying the accomplishment flag high!
Here are some tips on how to Brag about your AMAZING committee:
- Postings in the break room, such as “This Month in Safety Committee”.
- Talk about it at all the staff meetings.
- Have the highest person at your business talk about it during general meetings or town halls.
- Have Safety Committee members report back to their departments during pre-shift meetings on what is going on in committee.
- Contests about the best safety committee improvement projects for the year that everyone can vote on. Of course – a trophy for the winner!
(A little bribery isn’t all bad) Committee members are normally not paid additional for being part of the committee, but you have to show them some love in other ways.
- Recognize who your members are by displaying their picture and name in the break areas.
- Have food (either snacks or meals) at the committee meetings. I used to do my meetings over lunch and every meeting they voted on what lunch would be next month.
- Committee only events – this could be a special lunch with the President or a get together outside of work.
- First dibs on any specialized training that’s going on; such as first aid, CPR, live fire extinguisher training, or attendance to a safety conference.
- Promotional items – Hats, t-shirts, lunch bags, badges, stickers; anything that you can stick “Safety Committee Member” on. ***tip*** Have members wear their t-shirts on committee days – another way to let everyone else know what is going on; plus creates that desire to be part of it.
ENCOURAGE MEMBERS TO RECRUIT OTHER MEMBERS
I know if you are struggling to just get members, this may not be a good first step. But this is the best idea. All you need is one member and use them to help get other people interested.
Brainstorm with your membership on how to get other employees interested in joining. You can even do a contest of who brings in the most new members during a membership drive.
Now It’s Your Turn
Those are my top ideas on how to get volunteers for safety committee, now I want to hear yours. Add to the conversation in the comments below. I want to know these two things:
- How do you get volunteers for your safety committees?
- What was the best improvement project that came out of your safety committee?
Hi, I'm Brye (rhymes with sky)! I am a self-proclaimed safety geek with two decades of general industry safety experience. Specializing in bringing safety programs to a world-class level and building a safety culture, I have trained and coached many safety managers, just like you, on how to effectively manage workplace safety in the real world. I would love to help you too.