This guest post is by Phil La Duke, co-founder of Rockford Greene International a Monroe, Mich.-based business optimization company. He is also an editorial adviser for Facility Safety Management magazine, a regular contributor to ISHN magazine, and a contributing editor and safety columnist for Fabricating and Metalworking magazine.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed a troubling figure for 2010 — after declining for more than a decade, the number of workplace fatalities spiked upward. According to government figures 4,690 workers died on the job.
Here’s why workplace safety is relevant to your recruiting and retention efforts:
- Safety matters. While television shows such as “Deadliest Catch” and “Ice Road Truckers” might make entertaining television, job seekers are more acutely aware of the safety of a prospective job than ever before; safety matters, and promises of adventure and high wages are balanced against the risk of injury or death.
- Job seekers care about corporate citizenship. Workers increasingly link a prospective employer’s ethics and corporate responsibility with being a good place to work. When workers chose a long-term employer they are increasingly likely to choose an employer whose politics, values, and ethics align with their own. A company that a job seeker judges to be indifferent to worker safety is more likely to keep looking, or to take the job for the experience and quickly begin his or her job search anew. Nobody wants to tarnish his or her reputation because of an association with a corporate villain.
- Injuries impede career growth. A serious injury makes an employee less marketable, and job seekers recognize this dynamic. In a world of multimillion-dollar athletes, job seekers understand how limiting an injury can be. For today’s workers the fact that injuries may make it more difficult to secure future opportunities, limit lifetime earning potential, and dash career aspirations seems intuitive. They weigh this factor when considering a job offer.
- Injuries sap morale. When a worker is injured, the whole company also suffers to some degree. In cases where there is a fatality or serious injury family members and friends may actively lobby workers to leave the company before a similar fate befalls them.
- There is such thing as bad PR. High-profile injuries negate marketing efforts. Companies spend millions crafting a corporate image to attract customers and talent, but all that money can be wasted if the company is a central figure in a high profile injury or fatality. Union Carbide, Exxon, and a host of other companies who were the center of media scrutiny of their safety records spent millions repairing their images. Many job seekers will not apply or consider offers from organizations with poor corporate images.
- A poor safety record is difficult to “spin.” Job seekers are now encouraged to ask questions during job interviews. When a company has a poor safety record, it makes it difficult for interviewers to paint the company as good and pleasant place to work.
As the economy recovers and the competition for labor intensifies, more companies will find themselves paying increased wages to recruit new talent and even higher costs to retain workers. No one wants to risk his or her life making a living; safety makes the difference between a good job and a bad one.