Professional development

2018 Job Outlook

S+H readers weigh in on job satisfaction, opportunities

2018 Job Outlook
2018  Job Outlook
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Respondents comment on the future of their profession

What can be done to encourage safety and health professionals to stay longer with their organizations?

Extensive support for safety and health from the highest levels of management was a popular suggestion. So were fair pay and a viable career path.

Safety and health professionals leave their jobs for two reasons: lack of support for the safety programs and opportunities for promotion. Providing these would cause safety professionals to remain within their organizations.

I think it has a lot to do with the safety culture within the company. Having executive/owner support and alignment will keep people long-term.

Upper-management participation. It doesn’t work if only the safety person is talking safety. It is hard to stay with a company as a safety manager when you are the only one pushing safety.

Better support from management to put things in place before an injury, not just afterward.

Having upper management better understand the role of the safety professional.

Upper-management engagement and a commitment to actually implementing the ideas, suggestions and rules.

Treat them like they matter. Owners and upper management need to take part in safety and not look at it as, “You’re here because I have to have you.”

Support from on top, a culture that says safety is not the enemy, a pay scale that reflects their value to the company.

S&H professionals must report to the highest level within building or organization, leadership team preferred. Without this commitment to safety, it is difficult to effect change at a lower level of authority.

Expand current responsibilities into other streams of the business. Safety professionals need a way to feel invested in the companies they work for.

Make safety a viable career, not just a side job on the way to a promotion to other departments. Give safety a seat at the leadership table and put power behind the position. Do not let other department goals override safety. Make everyone (worker to president) accountable for safety.

The realization that no matter how small, they are making a contribution to the cause.

The organization should be willing to encourage professional development, assist with membership dues in professional organizations and not fill positions from within with inexperienced, non-credentialed individuals.

Management must acknowledge that it doesn’t know more than the person it hired to manage the program. Don’t use senior safety positions as developmental jobs for (operations) people.

Communicate that safety behaviors and conditions don’t change overnight. They take time and perseverance.

Encourage them to mentor younger staff and allow younger staff to shadow them as they do their job. Mentoring retains experienced workers.

Offer fair-market wages for positions. Most companies only have one safety professional who wears many hats within the company. … Most manage the department even though they are only in a coordinator position that is a lower-paid position.

Pay them, or buy them lunch every once in a while. If people feel they are well taken care of, they will not go anywhere.

It’s always about the money.

Better pay, better advancement, better benefits and less micro-managing.

Flexible schedules, fair pay and a career path.

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Going forward, what skills will be most important for safety and health professionals to be hired and promoted?

Responses indicate that a successful safety pro is a well-rounded individual who, in addition to knowledge and technical expertise, has strong communication and people skills at every level of an organization.

The most important attribute is a true passion for the safety of others, including a positive, enthusiastic personality.

Industry knowledge and excellent communication skills coupled with analytical abilities.

Safety and health professionals are asked to cover a wide range of areas. Having cross-training in multiple areas, including environmental compliance, will greatly help.

Adaptability, there will always be more than one hat to wear, know which hat you are this hour.

The ability to adapt to and thrive with the exponential growth of technology.

Attention to detail, critical thinking and interpersonal skills.

Backbone; being able to help determine the correct path and stick with it, even if it may cause a few very important people some heartburn.

Safety and health professionals need to be good teachers of various levels of personnel. Being patient is critical to getting through to people.

Psychological and sociological skills. The future of safety is behavior change. To change behaviors, you must get inside the workers’ heads.

Understanding which rules make a difference and being flexible when it doesn’t.

Safety professionals need to be able to connect what they do to the bottom line. They have to be able to show the benefits of a good safety record and how the company can market that record.

The ability to talk to anyone anywhere. Have the courage to talk to the people.

Creative problem solving. The easy solution is not always the most cost effective, and therefore, harder to sell to management. Creative and cost-effective solutions are the key.

Degrees, willingness to undergo ongoing training, ability to work with people with a wide variety of backgrounds and the ability to make safety important to everything in the organization, make it personal to all.

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What can be done to attract new people to the profession?

Respondents agree that the safety and health profession needs more visibility. Outreach to high schools and college students about the career path was an oft-repeated suggestion.

Knowledge of this field, the good pay and the interesting day-to-day work would help get more people interested.

Get the word out about what we really do, and the real value we bring.

Increase visibility. Most safety professionals I know entered the profession from another field.

Continue to promote the profession to both high school and college students through presentations at local schools and career fairs.

Mentoring by current professionals. Start at the high school level with outreach programs.

Education starting in high school, even in shop classes. People in the trades make good safety supervisors.

Find that person who is interested, and train and mentor them. But, that requires dedication from upper management.

I think it needs to better appeal to people who have that “helper” mentality. There are many caregiver professions out there. This could be one that appeals to those caregivers who are more technically/technologically inclined.

Change the perception (and reality) that we’re safety cops. We should be seen as a vital part of the organization instead of an add-on after a fatality or inspection.

Money and stability make jobs attractive.

Educational institutions, especially trade schools, to offer more courses and S&H as a career path.

Quality internships and good education opportunities can help attract new people.

Reach out to women and minorities.

Make it easier to obtain certification without degrees.

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