When they hear ‘health and safety’, most people – particularly managers – immediately jump to fire drills, risk assessments and box-ticking. But health and safety in the workplace is far more than that.
A positive health and safety culture can improve productivity, profitability, client and stakeholder satisfaction, lower staff turnover, and so much more. It’s key to get it right, and part of that is bringing in new staff that share a commitment to building and upholding that culture.
Good health and safety practices ultimately benefit your whole workforce, whether through procedures that directly impact them or by reducing staff absences creating a more efficient site. In addition, research shows workplaces that prioritise health and safety have more productive workers. Therefore, bringing in individuals who have the same emphasis and commitment to health and safety is advantageous to your entire team.
Attitude to risk
A commitment or passion for something is hard to ascertain from a CV alone, and understandably, skills and knowledge relevant to the role are usually prioritised over health and safety.
Nevertheless, including one or two safety-relevant questions in the interview process can be hugely beneficial and can help build a team dedicated to working towards a strong health and safety culture. In addition, interviews are the perfect place to find out more about your candidates as people, beyond their CV, especially their attitude to risk.
Of course, you aren’t going to turn down a prime candidate because they’re a fan of skydiving. But if they’re consistently brushing over health and safety details when asked specific questions, it begins to build a risk profile that you can use to determine a candidate’s suitability.
When a person is being blasé about health and safety and procedures in an interview, you can bet that they’ll be taking risks and not following policies in the workplace. So excluding that risk at the interview stage will undoubtedly create a safer workplace.
Knowledge and qualifications
CVs are limited in detail they can give, which is why asking health and safety questions in the interview process is crucial. However, the information they can provide goes beyond qualifications. You can use your questions to find out what hands-on experience they’ve got, either at handling emergencies or setting up procedures to minimise risk in the first place.
Opening a discussion around health and safety allows you to explore their knowledge so you can be sure if you bring them into your team, they’re committed to building and maintaining a health and safety culture.
Value led interviewing
There is a growing trend of employees wanting to work for companies that share their values and beliefs. Having questions in an interview that explore an employee’s values and allow you to share yours makes it far more likely that you’ll attract new starters who have the same commitment to health and safety.
If your staff truly believe in creating a health and safety culture, it becomes far easier to embed in day to day activities.
How can you include health and safety in the process?
- Structured, competency-based questions
Often the success of an interview comes down to the questions asked. By using structured, competency-based questions, you can probe their health and safety experience, understanding and qualifications.
The exact questions you ask can be tailored to the job and industry you operate. For example, you could ask them to tell you about how they implemented health and safety procedures in their previous role, or you could broaden it to ask them to explain a time when they had to consider health and safety. Both will very quickly give you an indication of their involvement and understanding of health and safety.
- Included in all interviews regardless of level
This is crucial. For a health and safety culture to become embedded in everything you do, it must come from the top. A policy stating health and safety questions will be asked at all interviews will start to help this happen.
It’s no good having entry-level employees who are passionate about health and safety, only for a manager to put an end to it because they’ve got no interest.
- Accessible interviews
Health and safety are more than procedures; it also covers employees and their working conditions and needs.
A great way to attract the right people to your business is through demonstrating you mean what you say. Asking someone for an interview and immediately asking about any accessibility needs and considerations that need to be considered does just that. Actions speak far louder than words and you taking the first step shows just how important that health and safety culture is to you.
Building a safety culture with the right people
Attitudes towards health and safety are difficult to change, however, if you are serious about cultivating a strong health and safety culture, bringing in people with the right perspective and knowledge.
It goes further than that, however. It’s about setting up the structure and expectation from the start – asking at all levels about their experience and making sure your interview process is truly inclusive. Then, when you start asking a few questions designed to probe that area, you’ll be in an excellent position to make the right decision for your business.
If you’re not sure where to start, get in touch. I’ve been working with businesses of all shapes and sizes for decades, helping them achieve a broader, more inclusive safety culture. I can help you identify the right questions to ask in your interview to ensure you’re hiring the right people.
Get in touch using the contact form above, or send me a WhatsApp message or text on 07814 203 977.