Positive workplace attitudes are a vital part of the safety and health management program. Most mentally know the importance of safety in the workplace. But when everyone - from the company president down to the newest hire – has a positive view of the importance of safety in the workplace, even if it is “just” an office, safety will be taken seriously. Employees with positive employee attitude about the health and safety management program will accept responsibility for protecting themselves and will take the extra steps necessary to protect the health and safety of their coworkers as well.
In even more general terms, an overall positive attitude is good for the mental health in the workplace. Negative attitudes in the workplace affect work performance, just as a positive attitude in the workplace improves workplace performance. More preventable injuries and illnesses happen when employees are dreading going to work, when employees are negative about the contribution their job makes to the company’s success, or when threatening behavior from supervisors or coworkers makes the workplace feel dangerous. A positive attitude is cultivated in two ways – by the employees witnessing the supervisor’s commitment to workplace safety, and by the employees looking out for themselves and each other on the job.
Positive attitude is a result, in part, from employees and workers feeling valued. One Gallup survey shows employees were more likely to feel valued (and therefore have a positive attitude in the workplace) when they:
- Know what is expected of them at work
- Have the materials and equipment to do their work right
- Have the opportunity to use their strongest skills on a daily basis
- Are frequently recognized or praised for doing good work
- Have a supervisor or someone who cares about them as a person
- Have someone at work that encourages their development
- Feel their opinion seems to be taken seriously
- Feel their job is an important part of the company’s mission
- Have co-workers who are committed to do quality work
- Have a best friend at work
- Has had their progress discussed with them in the previous six months
- Feels they have had opportunities to learn and grow at work.
The same researchers (Wagner and Harter) who conducted this Gallup poll found that “employees who possess a compliant and teachable spirit, exhibit confidence and stability and are aware of their surroundings are the same employees who exhibit safer behaviors.” This is a positive employee attitude, quite simply. And obviously, from these employee results, it is apparent that the positive attitude of one employee helps promote positive attitude in the workplace. The supervisors’ positive attitude about the importance of safety in the workplace contributes to the positive attitudes of the employees about the health and safety management program.