Author BIO – Antonio Ferraro – On behalf of Creative Safety Supply based in Portland, OR (www.creativesafetysupply.com). Antonio strive to provide helpful information to create safer and more efficient industrial work environments. His knowledge base focuses primarily on practices such as 5S, Six Sigma, Kaizen, and the Lean mindset. He believe in being proactive and that for positive change to happen, we must be willing to be transparent and actively seek out areas in need of improvement. An organized, safe, and well-planned work space leads to increased productivity, quality products and happier employees.
It is natural human nature to perform better, feel more comfortable, and generally be more motivated to participate in activities when a person feels secure. However, feeling secure in an environment takes time; most people are not able to feel truly secure within just a few days. In order for a sense of security to be built, a level of trust and rapport must be constructed between people as well as the environment as a whole. This belief also holds true within a work environment. Nonetheless, the unfortunate truth is that many managers use “fear” to drive their employees instead of security. Fear is a powerful feeling that can be incorrectly utilized to motivate employees into preforming quicker, or to make less mistakes, or even just to keep their jobs. From the outside, it is pretty easy to see that using fear as a motivational tactic completely abolishes any sense of employee security. When fear is used as a driving force behind increasing production, employees often begin to hate the object of their fear that turns out to be the manager. Managers who incorporate the tactic of fear in an attempt to increase productivity often experience less than desired results, as employees tend to be less committed to quality and often silently rebel against the manager’s wishes.
Creating Employee Security
As mentioned earlier, building employee security takes time, however, it is often well worth the effort. Why use fear as a motivational tactic when you can use empowerment? Some key factors involved in building employee security and creating empowerment include communication, clear expectations, trust, and a safe work environment.
Step one communication is the key. Without proper communication, employees may feel more like pawns in a game of chess, just being moved strategically without any input whatsoever. Who are the people that are out working with products, processes, and equipment nearly every day? The employees! Employees are like an untapped treasure trove of valuable information for process and product improvements. If there is a hold-up or ongoing issue somewhere within production, most times the employees knew about it way before top management staff did. The need for open communication to share thoughts and ideas is vital to the livelihood and continued success within a company.
Furthermore, clear expectations are also imperative to building security. When people know what is expected of them they operate towards the objective using more enthusiasm and passion. For instance, imagine that an urgent order was coming through for a business requesting 1,000 brake pads, the manager needs the order fulfilled and ready to ship within 2 days. Which way would be better to communicate the expectations to employees? Option 1: The manager tells employees they need to get a large order of brake pads out within a few days and that he needs employees to work as quickly as possible for the next few days. Option 2: The manager gathers the employees for a short meeting and communicates to employees that a large urgent order of 1,000 brake pads has come in, the order needs to be out and ready to ship within two days with zero defects. Then the manager asks for any sort of ideas or thoughts before production begins. I think the obvious choice is option 2. The pure and simple truth is that people work better and feel more secure when communication and expectations are valued.
- Trust and Safe Work Environment
Lastly, trust and a safe work environment go hand-in-hand. Employees need to feel that they can trust their employer and managers to do what is in the best interest of the company as well as the employees. Trust is a two way street, managers need to trust that employees are working efficiently in regards to production, and employees need to trust that the managers believe in them and their quality of work as well. The employer and managers should also strive to create a safe work environment for employees as well. When employees feel safe within the work environment, they also feel a sense of security.
In a nutshell, security is not something that is automatically felt by people; it is more of an earned sense of safety that takes time to create. However, a company cannot truly become great without secure and empowered employees. In order to create an efficient and effective work environment with top rate production levels, employees need to feel secure.