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09 May 2024

Need to boost your EHS program adoption?

Need to boost your EHS program adoption?

Increase employee engagement TODAY by doing these 5 things.

Let’s face it, a successful EHS program relies on strong adoption. Getting staff buy-in and maintaining engagement is one of the biggest challenges you face as an EHS professional, and it’s not getting easier. The great news is though, a few small tweaks in your program (along with a little change in the way you think about EHS) can positively impact your success. 

To help unpack the tips, tools and tactics EHS professionals can implement to drive their EHS Programs, we spoke with Andrew Scott, Head of Operations at IONYX - a leading digital transformation consultancy with a deep understanding of the health and safety landscape. 


Here are the top 5 insights that you can apply in your role, today.

1. Start with the people, not with the tech. 

It’s not uncommon for companies to jump to technology to solve a problem, without first considering how the technology will be adopted. This can seriously reduce engagement from the get-go and wreak havoc on the long-term success of the project and your program. As Andrew explains: 

“What we often miss, is how do we get people onboard and how do we get people to adopt this. And ultimately, the success or the failure of your project comes back to whether people are actually going to use it or use it the way that you want them to.”

Some of the greatest threats to people using the system in the way you want it to be used can be traced back to the way our brains work. One of which is status quo bias - a neuroscience term that describes our default position to favour what we already know over something unfamiliar. 

Understanding this in-built human trait you can significantly increase your chances of strong engagement through consultation. Start by giving people who’ll be using the system agency and empower them to get involved in the process, ask questions, and contribute to the solution. By doing so, they will feel a sense of ownership and familiarity when the system is rolled out. And when something new feels more certain, your chance of adoption becomes more certain, too. 

2. Beat your own bias: What’s familiar now may not be the safest option. 

In order to change the behaviour of others, we first need to change the way we think. And this can be harder than you think. If you cast your mind to your current EHS program, it’s probably difficult to point out any flaws. But if you zoom out and look at your program with a wider lens and a clear focus on the outcomes we all strive for - the safest possible working environment for our people - you’ll be more likely to seek improvements.

One of the ways to help you beat your bias, as Andrew puts it, is by digging into the question: 

“What are the actual costs of the status quo?” 

He suggests that really interrogating the actual costs of the status quo can help you shift the dialogue and the perception of the current state.

“If you're able to demonstrate that the status quo right now isn't going to give you your full coverage of risk management or incident management, identifying where those gaps are, and identifying where the status quo doesn't meet the requirements is really important. So if you can frame it up as describing the cost of the current state and versus the future state, then you're more likely to get people on board as well.”

Another practical tip to get yourself (and your people) onboard with the change is to talk about the future state as being the new status quo, with your current approach no longer living up to what is expected or required for your EHS program’s success. 

3. Increase familiarity to decrease the threat of change. 

"Wait! Didn't you just say familiarity isn't always the safest option?", I hear you say. While challenging the status quo is needed for evaluating your systems, the opposite is true to drive engagement once a change for the better is made. It needs to feel like a small change for your users and not a gigantic leap.

Did you know it takes just 8 milliseconds for the brain to move into a state of threat? That’s almost 19 times faster than it takes Usain Bolt to react to the starting gun in the 100m sprint!

The best way to beat this state of fear setting in is to dial up the familiarity of your new solution - in the way it looks and in the way it's used. Failing to do so is a recipe for failure.
“The more people need to think about what they're doing, the more friction, the more mental friction, it's going to add to the process.”
By understanding how your people use your current EHS systems and engaging them in the process of change, you can adapt your new technology to mimic what they do as closely as possible.

Through this process you’ll also gain insights on the way people speak and the language they use and this should be adopted in your communication about any changes. Frame your communications in a way that’s familiar and supports their motivations. For example, explain how it will save them time and improve their day instead of using stats like “this will increase data collection by 3.2%”.

4. Keep things simple for long term success.

When it comes to tech and EHS, you need to make things really simple. Research suggests that having just one extra step or one extra click within a process can lead to a dropout rate of over 30%! 

According to Andrew, when it comes to any successful EHS digitisation project simplicity comes to the top every time.

“If you want people to buy in, if you want people to use the solution, you want something that's going to be really simple. Now, that’s simple to use once you’re in the system but even going back before that, you want something that's intuitive that people can easily get to.”

The simple fact is, the harder it is for people to login, upload a document or log an accident the greater chance you’ll get the opposite behaviour of the ones you’re seeking. They’ll simply stop using the system and stop reporting incidents. 

This must be avoided at all costs. If people disengage with your systems, your program will fail to capture critical data which in turn reduces the insights you need to keep people safe. The result? Your risks will increase substantially. 

Here’s some thought-starters to simplify your system:

  • Make the system easily accessible to everyone, everywhere (on their desktop or homescreen of their phone)
  • Pre-populate information they’ve used previously
  • Minimise the clicks needed to complete a task
  • Streamline the process as much as possible

By making access to and use of your EHS system as frictionless as possible, you can get users into a mode they're familiar with. This will increase your adoption rate and the quality of your information. And ultimately, the information is what most EHS managers use to try and determine how effective their EHS solution is.

5. Choose the right system to give you the right information at the right time.

“Ultimately, you want a system that meets and works the way that your business works, rather than you having to adjust your operations to the system that you’re implementing”. 

That’s the key advice Andrew offers when considering the right EHS software, but it doesn’t stop there. He warns of the potential pitfalls of too many different systems working together and the additional steps, and ‘noise’, they can create. 

“Most of the time, these types of systems are only used about 2% of people's workday. So for most people, this is an afterthought. This is something that is a minor part of their day, and is often seen as a point of distraction and point of frustration. So you want to try and make it as seamless as possible within their work environment and within their processes”.

So how can you do this? Andrew talks about Minimal Viable Actions, or simply put, what are you trying to achieve and what’s the shortest path to get there. 

By removing the number of steps and number of things a user has to do, as well as reducing system notifications to only those critical for a person to take action, you reduce a feeling of overwhelm. This increases their ability to understand a process and then interact with it, leading to an increase in adoption and engagement. In turn, this leads to better data capture and access to the insights your business needs, when it needs it. 

Your EHS system should support your business processes and remove as many steps as possible. If your status quo is multiple systems - be it paper, spreadsheets, or multiple digital solutions - chances are you’re inadvertently creating more work and more barriers for adoption. 

If you’d like to increase your adoption or think it’s time to review your systems, the above tips can help point you in the right direction. 

Or, if you’re ready to beat your status quo bias and look for a simpler, single-source EHS and Injury Management Platform that boasts the highest engagement rates in the industry, talk to us!

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