Active Employee Engagement – Why it Matters and How To Do It

One major factor that can affect the success of your safety programs is employee engagement. This is a crucial piece of the safety puzzle because even if you feel completely prepared, that doesn’t matter if your company workforce doesn’t cooperate.

So, if you really want your programs to be effective, you’ll need to work on employee engagement! But how? Let’s dive into it to know more.

What is Employee Engagement?

Before we discuss how to increase employee engagement, you first have to understand what employee engagement is. There are safety professionals who think that employee engagement simply refers to employees following the rules you’ve put in place or attending the scheduled meetings but employee engagement is actually so much more than that!

Employee engagement refers to the deep level of dedication that an employee feels toward their company and how involved the employees are in daily safety activities.

When an employee loves their company, they will do everything they can to improve their workplace, even without being told so. So you can expect that not only will they closely follow the safety program, but they will also actively participate in giving suggestions and recommendations to others. Because of this, progress can easily be mad and seen within the company.

Now the next question would be how would you know if the workforce is active? One of the things that you can check to see is the suggestion box. An active workforce will have a lot of suggestions in the suggestion box on how improvements can be made. Other signs would be if they’re proud of the company, actively recruiting people for the company, and mentoring other employees about safety.

What is the impact of an Engaged Workforce?

There are many benefits to having an engaged workforce. Aside from the previously mentioned success of the safety program, an actively engaged workforce can more easily achieve the safety goals that you’ve set up. And because of this, you’ll also be able to develop a great safety culture inside the company.

When employees actively participate in safety programs a feeling of camaraderie is built between employees because they’re actively looking out for the safety of each other. Each employee knows that they’ve got each other’s backs. This helps to raise morale, strengthen company pride, and lower the turnover rate!

How to Encourage Others to Actively Participate?

Now, I know that making every employee become more engaged can be difficult. The truth is, most employees don’t really care about safety. Many only care about getting paid, and leaving once their working hours are done. So, how can you encourage them to actively participate?

The answer is simple – convince your management team first. You’ll need to have the management’s support because these people are the employees’ bosses-they’re the ones that roll out their pay. So, if the employees see that their bosses are cooperating, they’ll most likely follow suit. Event though at first, it might seem obligatory for them. Once the employees see the benefits of participating, they’ll slowly come around and do it actively.

Take Action

In summary, active employee engagement is very important for the success of your programs. So, take time to assess their engagement, think of the things that you can do to make them actively participate, and influence the management team to support you.

How Employee Engagement Makes Safety Management Easy

Safety Brye: [00:00:00] When I ask you how you get employee engagement, I bet the very first thing you think of is safety committee, but true employee engagement is when 80% or more of your employees are meaningfully involved in your program. And you can't have 80% in your safety committee. So today I wanna start a conversation about employee engagement.

Let's get to it.

Hey there, safety friends. Welcome to the Safety Geek Podcast. I'm Brye Sargent CSP and 20 year Safety Professional. After spending years training safety leaders across the globe for a large corporation and creating safety programs from the ground up over and over again, I am now sharing my processes and strategies with you. At the Safety Geek, you will learn how to manage an effective safety program that

[00:01:00] increases your management support, and employee engagement, all the while helping you elevate your position and move up in your career. If you're ready to step into the role of a safety influencer and leader, you're in the right place.

Let's get to it.

Hello. Hello. Hello, my safety friends. How are you doing today? So I wanted to start off today by highlighting a review that I got on Apple Podcasts. I'm gonna try to do this more. So that way I can share the reviews cuz I just think they're amazing. So if you have not left a review for the podcast, please do so on your favorite podcast app.

Obviously I'm an Apple podcast user, so that's where I'll see it first. But I will definitely search for Spotify and I don't know if I have Stitcher on my phone or Google Play, but I'll look, depending upon wherever it is that you share your comments. But this one

[00:02:00] is coming in from Illinois's Farm Gal. I guess that's what it's called. It's Il Farm Gal says, as a professional who has been out of the HSE Health Safety and Environmental Arena for many years because of kids and family business, and they want to reenter the workforce, these podcasts along with studying for the ASPCSP exams have given me solid resources. So that when I land a job soon, I will hit the ground running with confidence.

Thank you, Safety Brye. Well, you are very welcome, a farm gal and kudos to you for reentering the safety arena, and I cannot wait to hear about the new job that you land. And good luck on that CSP because that is a beast of an exam. But anyway, let's get onto employee engagement because that is what we're talking about today. Now, did you know that the key to an effective

[00:03:00] safety program is employee engagement? Like literally that is the secret sauce, I guess you could say, or the magic key or whatever. You have to have employee engagement because you can have programs, the inspections, the training, the audits. You could have the whole kit and caboodle, but if your employees aren't engaged, Your program will still struggle.

In fact, all the things that we do on a daily basis, the true reason why we do them is yes, to keep people safe, obviously, and to train people, but they also improve engagement, getting people to change their behaviors, to do the right things, to follow safety procedures. All of that does change engagement, right?

And we are asking them to engage in those programs and in those policies and procedures. But there is a difference between employees towing the company line and an engaged

[00:04:00] workforce. And today we'll be talking about the why of having an engaged workforce, like why it matters, and why it is important to you and to safety.

But to get started, we need to actually define what engagement is. So when you think about employee engagement, and we're not talking just about safety. We're talking about employee engagement throughout your entire organization. It is the level of dedication and enthusiasm that a worker has for their job.

It's how much they love what they do and who they work for. So one of the things I always hear from people is how passionate I am about safety and that it comes out in my voice and in my talking, and anytime you mention it to me. Like that is what we want, right? We want them to have a love for what they do, regardless of whether or not they are sweeping the floor, making widgets, or directing a sales force. We want them to love what they

[00:05:00] do and who they work for, and it's just having that sense of pride in their work and then having common goals with the organization. So like when an engaged workforce has the same goals as the organization, which is likely to increase sales, reduce expenses, and do it all with high quality in a safe manner, right?

If everybody has those goals, the entire organization flourishes. Now what engagement is not, this is just as important as what engagement is. Engagement is not following company policies. So if someone's following the company policy, don't consider them an engaged work person. They have to do other things than just following the company policy, just doing the job, but doing nothing more.

So they are like the monkey that takes the SOP and just follows it as it is. And when that bell rings at five o'clock, they're gone. Right? Not engagement there. If they

[00:06:00] are attending meetings because they're mandatory, not because it's like, Hey, it's safety meeting day. Not that I don't expect everybody to get all excited about safety meeting day.

Right? But they should be engaged enough to be like, Hey, I'm so glad that my employer provides this to me and I'm so glad to be learning this and that this is an interesting topic and I do wanna keep us safe. That type of thing. Right. And listening and doing what they're told is not engagement. Just because you tell somebody to do something and they do it, I tell you to come to safety committee and do this inspection, and they do it.

Does not mean that they're an engaged workforce. I mean, maybe you can check it off as like, Hey, I've got one person on safety committee, or 10 people on safety committee. I got 10 people engaged. Not necessarily because when you have a true engaged workforce, I've seen an engaged safety committee is freaking amazing. You know they wanna be there. They're excited to be there. They come with ideas. They do

[00:07:00] all sorts of things. So there is a difference between towing the company line and an engaged workforce. So how do you actually measure engagement? Because you know me, if it's not measured, you can't manage it. So you have to have a way of measuring it.

So measuring it could be through suggestions submitted. If people are making suggestions and saying, Hey, we should be doing this, or we should be doing that, they are definitely more engaged than the people are just like, whatever, I don't care. Another way you can measure engagement is are they recommending their friends to work there?

If they're openings and they go, oh, so-and-so, you need to come and apply because my employer's hiring and you need to work here. That is an engaged workforce. I always think about my son, where he is currently working. He loves his job so much that whenever there is an opening, he actually helps the company find somebody. He goes out, talks to his mechanic friends and is always like, you need to work here. He's a great guy to work for. We're

[00:08:00] doing this, we're doing that, and that's what you wanna see in your workforce. Attending a company event. So a lot of companies, they will do like employee appreciation weeks or they might do like charity events and things like that in their community or for their employees, right?

I've even had a company that did like an employee picnic, bring your family type of thing. If they're attending those events. That could be a sign of engagement. Now, I've seen unengaged people attend these events, but overall, if you're getting good participation in these events, that's employee engagement.

If they are stepping up to mentor, new hires, employee engagement, they actually wanna help the new hires do better and make it in that organization. And if they have pride. So one of the things, I walked into this workplace one time, completely engaged workforce, every single person, and they did not have a uniform. Every single person was wearing some sort of swag from the company, whether

[00:09:00] it was a hat or it was a shirt, or it was a jacket hung over their chair. It didn't matter. Like they had so much pride in their company. They wanted the company logo on everything, and they had a company store where you could buy stuff.

It wasn't that the company was giving it to them for free. People are actually buying it, or if they're referring customers to the company. Let's say that you make a product that's for sale to the public and they're telling their friends, you should buy this product. You know, I had a friend one time that used to make those baby chairs, I can't remember what they're called, but they're made out of foam.

They're very popular. They're actually made here in my town, and like they would refer everybody like, Hey, you gotta get your baby this chair. I'll see if I can get you one, see if I can get you a discount. So that type of thing, that's pride in the work. So those are different ways that you can measure employee engagement. If you're not seeing these things, then likely you don't have much of an engaged workforce and you're fighting a battle to get them more engaged. Now,

[00:10:00] the reason why you wanna have an engaged workforce is that when they are engaged, goals are getting crushed. I mean, here you have employees and managers and executives all having common goals.

We are just crushing them. You're literally just one goal after the other you're hitting and improvements in the organization are constantly being made, whether that is improvements to safety, improvements to quality, improvements to sales. It's just because everybody is so proud of the company. You're getting a lot more improvements.

You have a higher employee morale. You have little to no turnover and you have this team atmosphere with everybody chipping in to help. So when everybody has this like common purpose and pride in the company, it benefits the organization. So that is when you have an engage workforce overall. But when you have that much of engagement, how does this affect safety?

[00:11:00] It is incredible. So when you have this engaged workforce, like the places I've gone in, where we've actually seen this play out where the workforce was just 100% engaged in the organization, safety didn't have to do much. They literally just had to make sure that they were the guide on the side, and they let their employees take the lead with suggestions, gave them their resources to do what needed to be done.

And as basically just made sure that they stayed competent, I guess would be a good word. Like they weren't doing something that was more dangerous or anything like that. Like they literally had employees writing the JHAs. They had employees doing inspections and the safety leaders in that organization just manage the documentation and gave suggestions and was constantly the coach to everybody who was handling everything. And it's not that you're handing everything off, it's just like when you have this much of an engaged

[00:12:00] workforce, they're already following the safe work practices and then they know that you have a goal to make it even safer. So they're constantly looking for ways for improvement, going back to common goals and crushing those goals and improvements being made.

So they will see things that are off, but because they know that the company goals are in play, they will do things to make sure that those problems don't escalate. So it's really, really cool when you're working with an engaged workforce. So how can you, if you're hearing all this and you're like, yeah, that's great.

Not gonna happen at my organization. I've been there. So how can you actually change this in your organization? And you know, I'm gonna be honest with you, some things are definitely out of your control, but what you need to change is that you can't control them, but you can influence them. You need to be that safety influencer, so you have to get your management team. So the way that you actually change engagement in an

[00:13:00] organization, it starts with the management team. It starts with the management team committing to collaborating with the employees. One of the things I teach in Safety Management Academy is all about how you constantly are collaborating with the management team and employees in every step of the way that we entwine their participation

in the entire program. We're very strategic about how we do this because we're getting that collaboration and there needs to be transparency. There needs to be that point where the employees trust the management team. They trust what the management team is saying. There's transparency, there's follow through, all of that

good stuff. And there needs to also be recognition, but it needs to be recognition for true achievements. It can't be just like, Hey, I'm given a high five to mark today because he said hi to me at coffee, right? Or whatever.

[00:14:00] Like a lot of times what I see organizations trying to do recognition, and there's a lot of programs out there right now.

Or you can give like high fives or it's like a social recognition platform that they try to do within the employees, and that's great. It's super. But what ends up happening is they recognize people for like just doing their job. But when you actually recognize for true achievements, like suggestions that have worked improvements that have been made, things that help move the needle forward, and you are not taking the credit yourself as a manager, you're going, hey, Yeah, we achieved this as a team, but it all started with Mark saying this was a problem and then he helped us.

He collaborated with us to bring the idea to full force. So it does have to be true recognition. Anybody with kids out there knows, like they give out the awards every month in elementary school. And they're basically just going through the roster of like, did I

[00:15:00] touch this person? Did I trying to touch everybody with recognition? It needs to be true recognition, cuz what'll happen is they'll, they'll see marketing recognized for that idea and then they'll start putting forward ideas as well. But when they see people getting recognized for things that just don't matter for doing their job, they're just like, that's silly. That's the company trying to build some sort of false recognition because they don't wanna give true recognition.

That's actually what we have seen play out in a lot of organizations. So that is how you build engagement. But how can you influence that? So like you might know what the management team needs to do, but your management team just isn't doing it. They don't collaborate, they're not very transparent.

They're not very honest. They don't follow through. They give false recognition if they give recognition at all. Right? You're sitting back and you're saying, you're doing this the wrong way. How can you influence them? So one way that you could do this is by starting to do it yourself within your own

[00:16:00] department. So instead of thinking of engagement overall, think of engagement just within safety. So you start collaborating with the managers, the supervisors, the employees. This is why I teach this in Safety Management Academy, right? You become transparent with your work. Another thing I teach is that whenever you're doing observations or coaching or accident investigations, you're very transparent about everything that the results with everybody.

You recognize employees who truly embody safety engagement. So if you want more engagement, you don't just recognize, oh, this person's on safety committee. No. You recognize that this person is on safety committee and they're going above and beyond to be a safety champion for their department. Or you recognize that this person has been a great mentor to new hires and showing them the safe work practices. Really recognize that true

[00:17:00] achievement in safety. Don't just like go, Hey, you made it a hundred days with no accidents. You know, that's great and all, but it's the people that have shown that true engagement that you recognize. And then here's what may happen, is that you start doing this in your department,

and then the management team may see that it's working and then they take it on too. That is called a bottom up approach. You're starting from the bottom and trying to influence the top to change the way they're doing things. It doesn't work. It can work over time, but it really is not gonna work in the timeframe that you really need it to work.

But you can, as you see them doing things, because you should be in the manager's meetings and things like that, and as you see them doing things, you can use your success stories to influence them. So they might have a new product that's coming out and you can say, Hey,

[00:18:00] I worked with these two employees to collaborate on my project. Why don't you reach out to them to collaborate on your project? I make you bet it'll make implementation better. I've always found that when I collaborated, my implementation went a lot easier than if I just came up with the idea itself, and then you can start shifting it from more of a bottom up approach to a top down approach.

So it's not about you doing this, you building engagement within your department to change the engagement of management. It's to give you success stories to help you influence the management team. So I don't want you to think a bottom-up approach works because it never works. So many people try it. And I would say like if you try to get your employees engaged without your management team being engaged and embodying employee engagement. It would probably take 10 years to work and you don't have 10 years. I want you to be moving

[00:19:00] forward in your career a lot faster than 10 years. Okay? So use it to build success stories to influence your management team. Alrighty, my safety friend. Today's episode is actually kicking off a series about employee engagement.

So over the next several weeks, we are going to be talking all about how you can improve. The engagement in your safety program, but I wanted to start off by like giving you that vision of what employee engagement is in defining employee engagement. So make sure that you stick around, subscribe on your favorite podcast player.

Like I said, mine's Apple, and while you're at it, leave review. You never know. I might read it here on the podcast, and plus, I'd love to hear your thought. And it helps others find the show. So thank you so much for listening, and I will chat with you again soon. Bye for now.

[00:20:00] Hey. If you're just getting started in safety or you've been at this for a while and are hitting a roadblock, then I wanna invite you to check out Safety Management Academy. This is my in-depth online course that not only teaches you the processes and strategies of an effective safety management program, but how to entwine management support and employee participation throughout your processes.

Are you ready to finally understand exactly what you should be doing and ditch that safety police hat forever. Then you have got to join me and your fellow safety scholars over at Safety Management Academy. Just go to to learn more and to get started. That's and I will see you in our next Students only live session.

Bye for now.[00:21:00]

Highlights From This Episode:

  • Employee Engagement Is The Key To A Strong Safety Culture
  • The True Meaning Of Employee Engagement
  • Many Benefits Of Having A Successful Employee Engagement In The Workplace
  • How To Make Your Workforce Actively Participate To Your Safety Programs

Links Mentioned:


This episode is kicking off a series about employee engagement. Over the next several episodes we will be discussing how you can improve engagement in your safety program. But I wanted to start by defining engagement.

So be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode in this series. And while you’re at it, leave a review on your favorite podcast player. I’d love to hear your thoughts and it helps others find the show.

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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.

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