Revamping OHS strategies

The best companies, I argue, have leadership development as a core competency but this is a rarity. The second problem is to do with the executive board

We're looking to revamp our OHS strategy, and one of the things we're looking to include in our recruitment process is a pre-employment safety assessment. What's involved in this?

- OHS manager in engineering, Sydney

The concept of 'recruiting safe' is becoming an increasingly popular way for organisations to take their OHS strategy to the next level. The process involves using an objective assessment to identify candidates who are more likely to be injured or involved in an accident whilst at work.

By screening out high risk candidates during the recruitment process, organisations can be confident that the investment they make in post-employment strategies such as training and development will be maximised. To date, OHS strategies have centred on addressing safety once the employee has started - of course, as many employers are realising, there are some workers who won't follow processes or procedures.

Whilst the inclusion of pre-employment safety screening will add significant value to an existing OHS strategy, it is important that organisations see this as an additional or complementary tool in a much broader OHS strategy.

Pre-employment safety assessments have been proven to identify some specific attributes found in workers with poor safety records. Attributes such as stress management, safety control, risk tendencies and attitudes towards drugs and violence have all been highly correlated with the number and severity of workplace accidents and injuries.

When looking for a pre-employment safety assessment, there are several important things to consider. Here are just a few:

Has the assessment been purpose built to measure key safety attributes?

Has the assessment been validated for use in Australia?

What (normative) groups are you comparing your candidates against? Is the group relevant?

Has the assessment been developed by registered organisational psychologists?

If the assessment is delivered online (as many of them now are) can the provider guarantee that their systems are reliable?

From a candidate care perspective, are candidates provided with feedback reports?

By Steven Dahl, managing director, Onetest. Ph: 1300 137 937

Beefing up leadership

Recently it was suggested to our executive that the company pays insufficient attention to leadership development and succession planning. Should we consider beefing up what we already believe to be an effective structure?

HR director, financial services company, Melbourne

The best companies, I argue, have leadership development as a core competency but this is a rarity. The second problem is to do with the executive board. People are currently making a lot of noise about corporate governance, but what is one of the major roles of a non-executive director? Simply the selection, coaching and firing of the CEO. However, most organisations do not do a very good job with that.

I also believe that you should never let the CEO be the only person to plan his successor because too many of them do not want to go or wish to come back as the ‘white knight’ and rescue the company from the terrible mess his successor has made. It is a very tough area for research and usually when you look at management succession you see the terse statements in the business press but you do not know the dynamics that are taking place.

For many leaders there is very much a sense of “après moi le deluge”, to quote Louis XIV. In other words, “I do not care what happens after me”. To me, the real test of leadership is how well his successor does.

By Manfred Kets de Vries, European Institute of Business Administration


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