Health and safety.
Fallen asleep yet? No three words have caused more eye-rolling or ridicule at the water cooler over the latest low-ladder-usage training course than good old Health & Safety.
And admittedly, when people do engage with it, it’s not the most exciting of subjects. But it is a hugely important part of what we do every day. Whether you’re a multimillion pound construction company, or a three man band professional services provider, it’s something that we all have to embrace (well, at least address) to create a safe and secure working environment for our employees.
So let’s be a little radical and look at it from a different perspective: using Health & Safety as a PR tool.
We put a lot of time and investment into Health & Safety (or at least we should) so why not try to make a return on that investment? Some very familiar brands have gone the extra mile to highlight their dedication to Health & Safety. Companies such as Laing O’Rourke (the “Get Home Safely” scheme), Carillion (“One”) and Scottish Power (“It All Matters”) are just a few of the major players to put it all on display when it comes to their take on Health & Safety.
The idea is simple. First and foremost it is to communicate their message of how seriously they take their Duty of Care to their employees. But not just internally. By creating a brand out of their Health & Safety, it is also a way of saying to potential clients or customers just what a grown-up, responsible and forward-thinking organisation they are.
Well so what? Funnily enough, it turns out that most potential clients would much prefer to deal with a supplier that considers itself careful and responsible to both its customers and staff, and not one that would have its employees cleaning the windows of the London Shard using an abseil harness made out of bailing twine.
Of course, as a small or medium size business, no one would expect you to have the same resources to put into a Health & Safety campaign as the national and global conglomerates, but there are a lot of simple, practical things you can put in place to start reinforcing your safety brand. The key is to shout about it: promote it in your client newsletter and on the website; use social media and email footers. Why not brand it alongside your usual corporate branding on promotional materials such as pens, mugs and notepads. And if you’re in a business that uses them, stick it on your hard hats or company vehicles. Getting your workforce to buy into your safety brand is as important as the external message you’re trying to get across. A few Health & Safety “brand” messages around the office may be a little more eye-catching than just the pro-forma Health & Safety Executive posters and immersing them in the brand will help them further promote the message to clients.
But make sure you practice what you preach by keep your employees refreshed with training and legislation updates and reinforce the importance of what you are doing and why.
So use your own efforts to ensuring e your staff is are safe in and their working environment is a healthy one can also be used to your advantage. You will inevitably invest time and money in the endeavour – so why not try and get something back? It’s not as if your low-ladder-usage training course is going to directly bring you new business (unless you make low-level-ladders, that is) but promoting the fact that you consider your staff important enough to warrant such training could put your nose ahead in a closely run tender. We are all striving to find something that sets us apart from our rivals and, in a competitive market, these really are the things that can make the difference.