How to convince your team that HSE, risk and compliance is worth taking seriously

If there’s one thing you’ll have noticed as a HSE, risk or compliance manager, it’s that people outside of your profession rarely seem to takes it as seriously as you do. In some ways that’s to be expected – after all, the individuals who are most immersed in the subject are the ones who are most likely to appreciate the value of it. But is it possible to convince your team to take it seriously too? Absolutely. And it’s important that you do.

Why the resistance?

In order to get your team on board, you’ll need to understand why they’re not already in the frame of mind you need them to be in. One reason is perhaps that (at least on the surface level), HSE, risk and compliance looks complicated. Documentation, legislation and guides are published regularly, and for those who are unfamiliar with the terminology, getting up to speed with it can feel like a daunting task.

Another reason is that it’s perceived to be rule-heavy and often (incorrectly) seen as being prohibitive; so it’s not surprising that many of the people you encounter will prefer to ignore it until an issue arrives at their door. Moreover, many myths circulate about health and safety, which perpetuates the sense of it being something to ‘kick against’. And, there may also be an element of resistance to making it a priority due to the fact that some businesses assume that they don’t have the available funds to take it seriously – an erroneous belief, but a significant factor to appreciate when trying to ‘win people around’.

How to win your team around:

So, armed with knowing what’s holding your team back from taking HSE, risk and compliance seriously, what can you do? Well, the first thing to do is to make a business case for it. This is something you should present to senior members of your team, and especially those who hold the purse strings (as these are the individuals who will be able to invest in high quality health and safety software, bring about changes in procedures and action the ideas that you have). For example, you could highlight the fact that taking HSE, risk and compliance seriously:

  • reduces the cost of lost time
  • reduces the cost of insurance
  • reduces the cost and implications of litigation and compensation
  • strengthens the business’s reputation
  • provides opportunity to bid for major projects
  • reduces staff turnover
  • improves employee morale
  • reduces the number of instances (and severity) of injury and death.

As you can see, highlighting the positive aspects of paying proper regard to this subject matter (as opposed to emphasising the consequences of failing to take it seriously) is what works. Finally, you can help your wider team to get on board with HSE, risk and compliance by ensuring that the training they receive is of high quality, delivered in a format that makes it easy to understand and digest, and is also delivered at the right time. For example, ensuring that employees have allocated time within their normal working hours to complete training rather than asking them to complete it on top of their workload is likely to reduce resistance to training, and also ensures that people give it the attention and concentration it deserves.