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The role of the compliance officer is dead: how to adopt a safety culture during reopening

Industry Trends | By | 20 Jul 2020 | 3 minute read

Everyone is responsible

The role of the compliance officer as we know it is dead. Every business needs to develop a culture of safety where every employee takes ownership of safety. COVID-19 has exposed the failings of top-down compliance models. Traditionally, compliance officers would perform weekly or monthly inspections to ensure the company’s staff were following the appropriate procedures. COVID-19 has changed everything. Now inspections need to be conducted every few hours to stop the spread quickly and keep people safe.  Every person has an important role to play in order to keep our people safe. 

Adopting a safety culture is the key to a successful reopening

Democratizing safety by empowering teams to act appropriately, report issues and find solutions is the only way to get safely back to business. It’s the people on the frontline in every industry who have the visibility to own safety practices from the ground up. 

Create a real-time monitoring system 

Checklists are the most efficient way to make sure that the right tasks are completed accurately. More powerful, is the ability to capture proof when execution isn’t up to safety standards, and the ability to do something about it instantly. When checklists capture non-compliance, enabling a safety culture means that issues can be flagged and fixed rapidly. 

For example, if a business provides hand sanitizing stations to customers in public areas, and a staff member has flagged that a machine is broken — a culture where workers have autonomy and responsibility, means that the issue is more likely to be fixed faster. The worker can raise and assign a manager to replace the machine. At the same time, the worker can take immediate action by providing a smaller bottle of hand sanitizer for customers in place of the machine as a temporary solution. 

Here’s how to promote a safety culture within your business. 

Lead from the top by starting with empathy

COVID-19 has been a stressful time for everybody. What it has shown though, is that humanity can be wonderful. And it’s in times like these where empathy is the foundation for good leaders. Business leaders need to have empathy across all angles:

  • Empathy for your staff. Simple actions like providing staff with the right protective gear can mean that they can keep their families safe while feeling protected at work, and during their daily commute. Peace of mind can be powerful. 
  • Empathy for your customers. Many of your customers will be struggling with their own problems arising from COVID-19. Listening to them, providing the right level of customer support, and keeping them safe when it comes to face-to-face interactions can mean the difference between a return customer, and a dissatisfied one. 
  • Empathy for yourselves. Leading means setting an example. This can be as simple as not showing up to a physical work site if you have mild cold symptoms, or taking a “mental health day” to advocate for the acceptance of mental struggles during a pandemic. 

Safety guidelines often come from a place of compliance. A safety culture comes from a place of empathy, doing the right thing by the right people, and enabling an entire organization to do the same. 

Democratize safety by involving everybody 

Employees should play an integral part when it comes to your business’ COVID-19 response. Your staff are often on the frontlines, interacting with customers and your products. They’re the first ones to pick up interesting insights, trends, and even risks. Allow employees to get involved in creating procedures and let them be creative. Even something as simple as letting your staff design a social distancing floor sticker can motivate them to contribute to a safer workplace. 

Meet world-class safety standards by offering training

With the world at stake, training should be simple and quick for staff to pick up. Allow guidelines and procedures to be opened up to your employees in advance. During reopening, many procedures will be new to workers around the world, so hands-on training will be imperative for certain industries. 

Cross-industry collaboration is also important because the failure of one business could see an entire industry shut down overnight. We must champion transparency so that any outbreaks are identified and managed. With clear and transparent lines of communication, both up and down the company chain, all parties become active participants in not only identifying and proactively mitigating risks, but also driving the best possible business performance as the situation evolves.

How logistics leaders are minimizing disruptions across the entire supply chain

The crisis has created new compliance demands for logistics providers. Brand new regulations have appeared overnight, and expectations surrounding corporate responsibility have increased. Governments continue to issue industry guidelines that must be quickly adopted, and the safety of each interaction is under the microscope like never before. Increased compliance has underscored the need for robust safety processes. Businesses must now prioritize the safety of their employees and customers or risk damaging their brand permanently. As the world reopens, logistics organizations have recognized the vital role of safety processes in building supply chain resilience.

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