The link between HR and HSE are not difficult to find. But the integration of safety into other classical HR processes such as recruitment, retention, promotion leadership etc. is equally important.

First-class HSE performance involves more than applying a safety management system and being equipped with safety equipment. It requires real embedment of a genuine HSE mind-set at all levels of the organisation.

For this to happen, the HSE strategies should be closely linked to the overall company HR initiatives and strategies. Only by doing this the HSE initiative will be properly embedded at all levels of the organisation. Good HSE performance is not created by placing the responsibility with a few people in the safety department; everybody needs to be in the loop to ensure real organisation anchorage.

Good HSE performance is not created by placing the responsibility with a few people in the safety department

Classical HR strategies must contain strong HSE focus

It is indisputable that safety has to be integrated in the HR strategy and the safety strategy must be aligned with classical human resource responsibilities specifically related to learning and development. In order to develop safety competencies the company competence management system must fulfil two components: 1) it must include proper evaluation of employee safety performance and 2) all training programmes need to integrate – to the highest degree possible – a strong safety focus.

The integration of safety into other classical HR process such as recruitment, retention, promotion, leadership etc. is equally important

The link between HR and HSE are not difficult to find. But the integration of safety into other classical HR processes such as recruitment, retention, promotion leadership etc. is equally important. Safety should, in other words, become in integrated part of any HR process, strategy or initiative. And just like the HR is an important tool in supporting a company’s business plan and goals, a strong HSE performance is the same.

Benefits for HSE

Linking HSE and HR provides winnings both ways. Seen from the HSE perspective the key benefits for linking the HSE strategy with the HR are the following:

HSE initiatives are giving the required attention

Making HSE part of the HR strategy and processes (e.g. in connection with recruitment, promotion, appraisal processes, career plan etc.) demonstrates tangible commitment from top management and broad engagement from the organisation as a whole. Furthermore, when HR and HSE caretakers share the same values they will agree on priorities and focus areas which is vital for developing a common perception of the wanted HSE culture. This will also work as a motivation for leaders and staff to contribute and support the HSE inititatives.

When HR and HSE caretakers share the same values they will agree on priorities and focus areas

Results focus generates a strong drive

When HSE is part of the HR strategy it will also be the basis for goal setting and measurement of results. And what gets measured gets developed. When results are required, the development will be driven more by a ‘pull’ approach; meaning that employees seek the information, procedures, reports, templates they need on own initiatives to keep improving HSE performance rather than waiting to be told what to do. This creates a HSE culture based on stronger motivation and thereby more extensive improvements.

Employees will seek the information, prodcedures, reports, templates they need on their own initiatives

Concordance between HSE development and the general learning and development strategy

The basis of strong HSE performance is the existence of a culture based on learning, feedback, knowledge sharing and constant improvement. Linking HSE goals and strategies with a general HR learning and development strategy will make it possible to utilise best practice learning methods in building this culture.

Shared responsibility and integration

Integration of HSE in all work processes is important to ensure that HSE competencies become an organisational capacity

As HSE concerns and matters should be a shared responsibility it is essential to incorporate the HSE action plan, strategies and goals in the overall HR effort. This will emphasize the principle that everyone in the organisation, on shore and on board, has an important role to play and should take responsibility, and that HSE should be integrated in all work processes throughout the organisation. This integration effort is also important to ensure that HSE competencies become an organisational capacity and are not left on individual shoulders.

Benefits for HR

Likewise, as the HSE work can benefit from being incorporated in the HR strategy, the HR benefits from HSE efforts – especially when we are talking about excellent HSE cultures.

Good HSE behaviour traits are also good performance traits

As mentioned earlier genuine HSE cultures are characterised by a culture that build on innovation, constant improvement, learning, intervention and feedback, and not least on personal accountability. These are all factors, which are highly needed to ensure good overall employee performance results. Learning and development strategies and methods can be adopted from the Excellent HSE culture.

Changing processes are eased

The innovative mindset creates proactive thinking and readiness to changes. Therefore changing processes in general will be easier to drive and successfully embed in cultures characterised by the previously mentioned features.

Best practice is enforced through a strong feedback culture

The feedback culture creates a culture where employees use their influencing power to infect others with best practice and at the same time challenge each other daily in finding new ways of ensuring excellent performance.

Learning and development strategies and methods can be adopted from the Excellent HSE culture

As a whole, a genuine HSE culture is characterised by employees who show readiness to take personal leadership at all levels of the organisation, take own initiatives to pull for insight and development. All these factors have proved to be good for recruitment and retention as well.

So how can the HR and HSE linkage be ensured?

First of all the HR strategy and efforts should integrate HSE as a natural part of the work. Secondly, typical HSE areas should be made subject to action plans, goals setting and result measurement. Finally, HSE should be made the responsibility of everybody in the organisation and be integrated in all activities of the organisation – enforced through the inclusion in typical HR processes like competence management, appraisal processes, training programmes, recruitment and familiarisation, job descriptions, KPI’s, leadership training, etc.

Checklist for areas to ensure integration of HSE in HR

KPI – Is HSE part of the KPI’s of the company?
Recruitment strategy – how is a newcomer’s safety mind-set shaped so that he/she is ‘fit for purpose’?
Competency management – are HSE competencies defined and part of the competence management system?
Job descriptions – Are roles and responsibility made crystal clear in relation to HSE?
Job package – Are roles and responsibility made crystal clear in regards to HSE in procedures?
Appraisal systems – do appraisal processes involve discussions and measurement of HSE performance?
Training programmes – do training programmes integrate the appropriate safety focus?
Leadership philosophy – does the leadership strategy incorporate consideration for leading HSE the best way?
Learning and development philosophy – does the learning and development strategies reflect best practice for knowledge sharing and learning from the HSE area?
Communication strategy – does the communication strategy involve an internal communication policy for HSE communication?
Retention strategy – Is good HSE performance made part of the retention strategy
Need help?

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Stine Skelbo
Stine Skelbo
Senior Consultant
Copenhagen

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