Development of Occupational Health and Safety
The operating environment of workplaces and customer requirements change and cause a constant need for change. Workplace discussions between the management and the employees are a key issue in shared awareness of change. When developing things, people should not focus only on problems, but also on how to make use of work resources. Resources can be used to reinforce positive experiences about the development of the workplace.
Meetings are an important platform for workplace development. Issues that have become a topic of discussion in the workplace since the last meeting and that need to be handled together are discussed in the meeting. Issues that have been selected as targets of development for the work community in the long term are also systematically on the agenda.
It is the supervisor’s job to gather facts about the development of the company’s operations. Indicators that reflect the development are needed.
Not all things can be resolved in meetings, in which case the further development of the issue is handed over to a work pair or a small group. The small group continues the development work in accordance with the assignment alongside their normal work. The immediate supervisor gives support and provides the expertise needed to support the solution. The assignment and its results will be discussed in the next meeting, and a feedback discussion on the solutions or development stages will be held.
The senior management starts the development process. An idea for development may arise, for example, from a change in the operating environment or from a customer, supervisor or employee experience. The most important thing is that the senior management is committed, sets objectives, monitors and provides resources for the development.
In order to determine the starting point in the workplace, key figures and experiences from different sources should be gathered together. What is working for us and what is not? How do we want this to be? What is the situation like when it is good? How do we notice it and how can we influence it? These are good questions for analysing the current status of the workplace.
A development project is a good way to organize the development work. Appointing responsible persons and a steering group, decision-making relationships, scheduling, resource allocation and budgeting are important. The project team has an important role in involving the staff and in communication and the practical implementation of various ideas.
In the implementation phase, the focus is on clarifying the plan and collecting assessment data on the development work. Development affects and changes people’s everyday lives. The important thing is that they are having an effect on the change themselves and have their supervisors’ strong support for the implementation process.
Only development that produces results is worthwhile. Stabilizing reforms requires changes also in the workplace structures, the organization or the management system. In the evaluation phase, it is wise not only to evaluate the results, but also what people have learned during the development work about things such as cooperation, project organization, communication and the various phases.
Process consulting is a good method for development when there are several needs for change present in the workplace and there is no immediate corrective action available. Process consulting is a systematic, step-by-step development process in which the needs for change are described, development activities are organized, and new ways of working in the workplace are introduced as a result of the development.
The process consultant helps the customer find the essential development needs and opportunities and provides assistance in the phasing and organization of the development process. The process consultant controls the processes related to the handling of various issues and problems by using a variety of methods. At the same time, the customer learns how to control their own actions and how to identify problems (not symptoms) and solve them in a constructive way.
The introduction of new, jointly developed practices creates a culture of continuous development. This continuously improves the smoothness of work, occupational safety, and well-being and working capacity.
Principles of process consulting:
- The management and the rest of the staff are actively involved in defining the problem, so that needs for change in the workplace that are “under the surface” also come to light.
- Development is both about solving problems and coming up with new and better policies and working methods.
- It is extremely important that the staff believes that people have the courage to bring up what is really happening in the workplace instead of just sugar-coating the situation.
- The management and the staff work together to develop new policies and working methods.
A Guide for Better Work
This Guide for Better Work came into being as a part of a project which aimed to find ways to improve the intrinsic motivation of personnel working in manufacturing in six different chemical industry companies.