Supervisors pivotal to business success

Sep 15, 2017

factoryDid you know that business success can often be predicted? The first indicator is employee engagement. To perform, people in your organization need to be engaged, focused, at their post, able to handle complexities, plan, make decisions, build relationships - and for that they need to be safe and healthy, both physically and mentally.

Without that baseline, they can't focus on growing your business, however much they might like to. Studies show that an engaged workforce can increase profit margins by as much as 4% and yield up to 22% more in shareholder returns.

The second indicator is the ability of your supervisors to defend against preventable risk. Supervisors have an up-close and personal view of what's happening every day. They know workers best, pull the levers of motivation, and are responsible for monitoring compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and regulations.

Workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities are often symptoms of gaps in a business's health and safety culture, as well as its policies and procedures. These defects also result in near misses, inefficiencies, equipment damage, unproductive attitudes, and more.

Competent, plugged-in supervisors, when supported by their employers, have the frontline perspective to identify such gaps and weaknesses, and implement processes to defend against them. But what’s the best way to invest in this important role?

"Of all the workplace parties, supervisors have the toughest gig when it comes to health and safety," says Scott Morrow, a WSPS training specialist. "They have the most responsibilities under various pieces of legislation." He says the most important thing an employer can do is educate and train supervisors in those responsibilities.

He identifies five areas to focus your efforts on.

  1. The Occupational Health and Safety Act. Without a working knowledge of the act, a supervisor cannot be deemed "competent." Yet, Scott says many supervisors he trains have scant knowledge of the act and their duties under it. "If they don't know the law, they can't enforce it," says Scott. It's critical that employers also understand the act and what competency means.
  2. Hazard identification, risk assessment, and controls. Training on existing and potential hazards is also required for a supervisor to be deemed competent, says Scott. "Supervisors have to educate and train workers. They can't do that without getting the proper training themselves."
  3. Due diligence. "Supervisors must take every precaution reasonable to protect workers," explains Scott. In the event of an incident, “they can be charged for failing to make sure something happens." To prove due diligence, "they need to have documentation, policies, procedures, job description, education and training records, compliance notes, discipline records, and more."
  4. Accommodation and return to work. Many supervisors are asked by their employers to accommodate returning workers or workers with disabilities while having little or no knowledge of what the law requires, says Scott.
  5. Leadership and coaching. Effective supervisors need to be good at both.

How WSPS can help

Supervisors play a pivotal role in building a positive workplace culture that integrates business needs with health and safety. This training solution goes beyond awareness of supervisors' legal roles and responsibilities, and engages participants in identifying real-life challenges and solutions. It considers the day-to-day context in which supervisors perform their role, and brings to life the concept of organizing work and performance. 

This soft skills based solution teaches supervisors to motivate, coach, discipline and support employees, and now includes content on:

  • mental health
  • conflict resolution
  • human rights
  • progressive discipline
  • violence and harassment
  • what to do if an injury happens
  • workers with disabilities.