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Practitioner viewpoint - June 19

14 May 2019

Celebrating success is a way of motivating staff and recognising achievements of individuals, and Louise Ward looks at the importance of awards schemes.

IT'S AWARDS season and the media is full of glitzy images, write ups and celebrity gossip associated with the BAFTAs, OSCARs BRITs et al, all focusing attention and celebrating success in the world of entertainment. But did you know that there are also a range of health and safety award schemes? Possibly slightly less glamorous and gossip worthy than Hollywood, but still important and inspiring events which aim to share best practice and celebrate success in our own sector.

As practitioners we understand that a commitment to continual improvement is the only way to achieve excellence in health and safety, but it can be a real challenge to keep staff and managers engaged. Celebrating success is a really important component of the continual improvement journey, and award schemes can be a great way of achieving this, whilst also facilitating benchmarking of performance and achievement. There are a range of schemes available catering for a wide variety of applicants, so you don’t have to be a top performer to enter. Applications are welcomed from developing organisations, and these often provide excellent case studies to encourage and assist others.

Some schemes are designed to reward overall achievement and progress towards excellence. These often have stringent entry criteria and a requirement to submit extensive portfolios of evidence to validate the entry. However, other schemes offer accreditation for discrete initiatives, projects or achievements. These are much more accessible to organisations which are at the earlier stages of their continual improvement journey, and can be a great way to celebrate and reward progress towards excellence.

There are also awards that aim to celebrate the achievements of individuals, those with long standing service in the sector, new entrants or people from outside the sector who have made an outstanding contribution in a particular area. These winners can become role models, help to raise the profile of health, safety and environmental careers, encourage new entrants to the profession and champion personal development.

I am lucky enough to have been involved in judging several of these awards schemes over the last few years. It‘s hard work reviewing all the submitted material and comparing it against the entry criteria, then validating scores and comparing notes with the rest of the panel. However, it’s always interesting to see how organisations are tackling common issues and innovating to drive improvement. Most schemes publish summaries of the successful entries to help share ideas and good practice. 

In my experience every year there is at least one really inspirational entry. One that tackles a particularly difficult issue, achieves a real step change in performance or adopts a truly innovative approach that helps to assure health and safety in a novel and different way. It‘s a real privilege to be able to share these stories, and I can honestly say that I learn something from the process every single year. I always particularly enjoy meeting the entrants at the awards ceremony, seeing how proud they are when collecting their award, and joining them to help celebrate success.

You don’t have to engage with an external scheme though. Many organisations now have internal award schemes too, which help to share ideas and experience internally, and to celebrate success on road towards health and safety excellence.

In our profession it’s all too easy to become focussed on the things that go wrong, but years of psychological research tells us that human beings learn better through praise than they do through criticism, so its actually really important to highlight positive achievements in order to keep people engaged and moving forwards towards health and safety excellence.

So if you haven’t entered your organisation for an award this year I very much hope that you’ll be getting ready for your own red carpet experience in 2020!

Louise Ward is the health, safety and environment director at Siemens. For more information visit, www.siemens.com/mobility