Safety Management Systems Bore Most Employees
Unlike those who study and create safety management systems (SMS), to the average employee these programs can be boring.
It’s not that the average employees don’t value safety, it’s just that they need to see how these programs are beneficial to them personally.
So how can we change our safety culture and encourage participation in aviation safety management systems? Below are six ideas on how to get people involved:
Safety Management Systems Should Be Applicable
1. Make SMS Activities Applicable and Specific to Their Job.
Whenever your aviation SMS training becomes too broad and designed to cover every area of the company, the employees will think that it doesn’t apply to them or to their role, especially if it is a large company. Customize safety programs and the associated SMS training courses to each department’s specific jobs.
Common-sense dictates that employees will increase participation in SMS programs whenever they can see how they benefit.
Have You Read
- Why Employees Can’t Stand Aviation SMS Training
- 6 Tips to Improve Aviation SMS Training Courses
- What Is Aviation Safety Training
Communication Critical to Successful Safety Management Systems
2. Use Plain English to Communicate SMS Principles.
Those who create aviation safety programs know the jargon. But the average employee does not have the time, or the desire, to learn it all.
While some risk management and SMS jargon may be necessary in some cases, be sure to keep it as easy to understand as possible. Safety management systems training should not overwhelm employees.
3. Keep Communication Open and Not Judgmental.
Employees should feel comfortable communicating safety concerns and feel like they are being heard.
Employees, vendors, contractors, and customers also need to feel free to communicate without fear of being reprimanded or judged harshly.
Encourage and affirm stakeholders' concerns, otherwise they are not going to report hazards or speak up when they need to, and this can cause breaches in safety.
Have You Read
- How to Write Non-Punitive Reporting Policy for Aviation SMS - Free Templates
- Indicators of Good Hazard Reporting Culture
- Let’s Talk Human Factors - Lack of Communication
Safety Management Systems Must Be User Friendly
4. Make the System and Processes Easy to Use.
Whenever a system is too complicated to follow, it will be easy for an employee to just let small things slide. This opens the door to letting bigger, more dangerous things slide.
Along the same thread, when processes are too complicated, employees may perform them once or twice, but the prolonged practice of complicated procedures will seldom occur. Furthermore, when management is not committed to following through and "managing" employee behavior, the SMS program will suffer.
5. Use Incentives to Modify Employee Behavior.
Everyone loves an incentive!
While an incentive isn’t the primary reason an employee should be concerned about safety, it does encourage people to stick to their safety habits when it’s easiest to become complacent. When everything is going well, people are lulled into letting safety habits slide, which opens the door to danger.
Not every employee is motivated by the same "carrot." Some employees desire recognition, while others prefer small tokens, such as monetary prizes or small gifts.
Safety Management Systems Don't Have to Be Boring!
6. Make SMS Fun!
You board the plane, find a place for your carry on, and find your seat.
The flight attendant asks for everyone’s attention as they talk you through what to do in the event of an emergency.
They’ve said it a thousand times.
You’ve heard it at least a hundred.
Nobody wants to give their attention to another boring safety briefing. But we all remember the flight attendants that made it fun.
Some give safety briefings to the rhythm of a rap.
Others punctuate the briefing with jokes or funny phrases.
These unique presentations maintain everyone’s attention and make it fun for everyone. This is also true for safety management programs. A lot more is learned and retained when the fun is involved.
Safety Programs Benefit Company and Industry
Safety management systems are very important to the health of aviation service providers and to the entire aviation industry. Therefore, we should make them as easy to use and implement as possible.
A good safety program enhances the company without bogging down the employees with superfluous information and procedures. As a result, the employees will
- be motivated to exercise good safety habits,
- feel they are valuable to the team, and
- the company will have a positive workforce of safety-conscious individuals that help and support one another in the pursuit of safety.
Have You Read
- 43 Benefits of Aviation Safety Management Systems (Proven)
- 3 Benefits of Aviation Safety Management System (SMS) Databases
- How SMS Benefits Airport Management
User-friendly hazard reporting systems increase employee involvement in aviation safety programs. This Hazard Reporting Solution offers many user-friendly ways to report:
- customer complaints;
- security issues;
- compliance matters; and
- environmental concerns.
Published April 2019. Last updated November 2021.
o'Callahan image by National Transportation Safety Board on flickr