EHS Management, Personnel Safety

The Importance of Managing Workflows for Company Safety

Following the events of 2020, the working landscape has changed for many companies with remote working and hybrid shift patterns becoming more normal than ever. With companies adopting these flexible working arrangements and also adapting their premises and operations around them, we must maintain a close eye on safety.

From the pressures of working extra hours at home to the risks of burnout, fatigue, and the impact on our mental health, now is as important as ever to focus on wellbeing in the workplace. With 4.7 million U.S. employees working from home or remotely for at least half of the week and 18% of the workforce taking at least one remote day per week, companies cannot adopt an out-of-sight, out-of-mind approach.

Instead, we must balance workflows for remote and on-site staff to ensure overloads aren’t occurring and everyone is happy. Let’s take a look at the innovations and latest trends that are helping companies boost their safety compliance.

Why use a workflow management system?

As many businesses and companies become more complex, they must maintain a firm grip on their overall direction while taking care to consider individuals and the tasks assigned to them. That is why modern workflow management systems are becoming an integral part of company culture, not only for the benefit of those businesses but also for the safety and well-being of each team member.

There are about 2.8 million nonfatal workplace accidents and injuries in the United States’ private industry each year, and companies should strive to improve their safety as much as possible. Workflows help to simplify often complicated tasks into bite-sized elements, which in turn helps employees better stay on top of their progress.

Rather than having to recall which stage they are at, by regularly ticking tasks off on their workflow, staff will be able to pick up from where they left off. Workflows also improve organization across the company while increasing productivity due to better levels of accountability and removing redundancies in the process.

Companies employing workflows can create a series of tasks for individual workers while also using them to collate large swathes of data to make better-informed decisions. This data can include which IT systems are required, how many workers are on a project, and what capacity they have.

Which workflow management system should I use?

Workflow management software comes in various forms, with some better for collaboration and communication while others offer free versions and an easy-to-use interface. There is something for everyone in a workflow system, it’s just about spending the time to find what works for your business.

For a bespoke system, some companies can help you find the right workflow for you while also providing expert support for a seamless transition while reducing downtime. From training and coaching to technical consultancy and 24-hour support, productivity tools like Jira don’t have to be feared by users who don’t think of themselves as tech-savvy.

Which workflow is suited to your company depends on what your needs are, your budget, and the level of automation it provides. Some are not compatible with your existing software, while others can seamlessly integrate so it’s important to do your research to find the best fit for your situation.

How can you build employee well-being into your processes?

One of the great benefits of an integrated company workflow is that it gives team leaders and managers a greater perspective on how work is being done. Many workflow programs offer metrics that can give management teams a better understanding of where productivity levels are, how many sick days people are taking, and overtime requests.

Companies can further measure the well-being of their staff by introducing regular employee feedback or ratings. By gaining feedback and comparing it with others in the same department it’s possible to gain a better overall picture of how employees feel about their role and the demands placed upon them.

How to monitor work levels

One of the main reasons for implementing a workflow system is to monitor how well operations across a company are doing. While great for monitoring productivity they can also be great ways to discover if an employee or team requires support.

As tasks are completed they are typically ticked off a list, but if certain staff or departments are regularly falling behind there is an indication that an imbalance is occurring. Whether that is because staff members are overworked, not enough time is being allocated for their tasks or they need support, a well-designed and monitored workflow can identify these issues very quickly.

Signs of “bottlenecking” indicate that the way your company is running isn’t a completely well-oiled machine and that there is room for improvement to boost productivity and staff well-being at the same time. This may highlight the need for further training, that one employee is struggling for reasons that may be inside or outside of work, or that they are becoming stressed.

Improving employee experience

Companies working without a centralized workflow management system risk their employees feeling burned out by the information overload caused by continuous streams of emails. Adding this to a need to collect data from various other sources, perhaps several independent workflow management systems, can become a contributing factor to increased job dissatisfaction.

With one in five Americans claiming to suffer from information burnout, workflow systems must carefully manage this to avoid increased stress and anxiety plus a decline in creativity. A better experience for employees leads to a happier workforce and fewer risks of safety concerns.

Automating safety processes

Workflows can also help with the physical safety of a workplace by building standard operating procedures and safety processes into their tasks. This can act as a checklist for anyone undertaking a task to refer to before starting but should not be a replacement for critical training.

Workflow management systems are also ideally placed for reporting on safety incidents and improvement suggestions by staff. These issues raised can be tracked and reports created, indicating safety records across time periods and helping companies create better safety targets.

Managing company safety through workflow systems

Think of a workplace as a garden, the more it is left to its own devices the wilder it becomes. This is of course why organizations have a management system and structure in place but those alone are no longer enough.

We must monitor company operations in greater detail to better understand what we are doing well and where improvements can be made. This can also benefit the safety culture of a company as safety practices can be built into tasks while monitoring and gathering data on employee progress.

Chester Avey has over a decade of experience in business growth management and cybersecurity. He enjoys sharing his knowledge with other like-minded professionals through his writing. You can connect with Chester by following him on Twitter @ChesterAvey.