Billy Arcement: Create the right culture for safety


What do your employees react to or say about your safety initiatives? Do they love it, or moan when they think about it? Not happy where the organization is positioned? Then  perhaps a change is needed in the leadership style of managers.

Don’t look at making changes as an obstacle. View it as an opportunity for your leadership team to become change agents. If the thinking about your safety initiatives doesn’t change, nothing will change. If thinking doesn’t change, you’ll keep getting the same results. INSIGHT: Some people label this the definition of insanity! 

Billy Arcement
Billy Arcement

Understand the culture

Change demands one get their hands around the organizational culture. It is the most important ingredient defining your organization. Cultural success depends on employees sharing the same core values. A values misfit creates chaos. Raising safety awareness and performance requires the support of corporate leaders. Wrong leaders in these positions? It’s a disaster waiting to happen.

Life is a series of choices. And a safe work environment is a choice. It will not happen by chance. Violations are a choice. No safe choices? Someone will make the choice to commit a violation. Nothing good comes from this choice. Leaders help employees to make the right choices.

Attitudes create culture

We are in control of our attitude. We either choose positive or negative attitudes. Negative attitudes produce risk taking moments. We say, “This can’t happen to me.” Sadly, this may be the last thought we have. Leaders can ill afford to approach creating a negative position about safety. Their attitude must support a safety first mindset every moment of every day.

People: Your most important asset

Only an ill-prepared or incompetent leader doesn’t understand the greatest asset they possess is their people. Leaders supporting this mindset are the servant leaders. Their intent is to successfully use employee talents while enriching their lives and creating a better organization. Leaders must value people to create a successful business. Any lesser approach decreases the organizational success odds.

Millennials are here

The majority of employees in today’s workforce are the Millennials. Future safety improvement means leaders understand the leadership style needed to get millennial to respond. Introduce strategic thinking, inspirational conversations and vision. Millennials prefer these and personal develop opportunities. These are excellent approaches for their training time. Leaders must be passionate about making safety improvements. A lack of passion will be the Achilles’ heel of your safety initiatives. Millennials have a people focus but are not as loyal as older generations. Thus, your approach should be a well thought out strategy to hit all the Millennial “hot buttons.” Leaders cannot forget the only outcome is to have a workforce that works safely and are not exposed to high risk or poorly developed safety practices. Safety first is always important.

Final thoughts

When I took over the safety process for my employer, I hired a former OSHA employee to help me. He taught me safety regulations. I taught him how to manage people. We made a good team. I only had two rules: (1) Never break a safety rule; and (2) Never endanger a fellow employee. It worked. No lost time accidents in the 10 years I had oversight of this program.

Today I train and write on leadership. And safety demands sound leadership. Get your team right and employee performance will get right. Safety and leadership are the right ingredients to cook up the right business environment. Is this the “food” you’re feeding employees?

Billy Arcement offers strategic training sessions and conference keynotes. His Candid Cajun offerings provide solutions leaders need to advance people, raise productivity and increase profits. A 38-year member of the National Speakers Association, his newest book, Leading Yourself, Leading Others—Candid Conversations that Improve Performance is now available on Amazon. For more information, go to