What could be more important than a guaranteed assurance that your spouse, child or friend will return home from work safely?
The short answer is “nothing.”
But, ensuring that level of safety and continuity rarely comes by way of a simple, linear path: it requires constant upkeep, diligence and adaptation.
It’s those types of concepts and conversations that will be featured at Make It Safe 2022, a health and safety conference hosted by the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC, at New Westminster’s Anvil Centre Oct. 14 and online Oct. 27 and 28.
Centred around the theme of “Leading the Next Normal,” both events will include dozens of experts and speakers, along with hundreds of industry connections, to help business owners and leaders build sustainable, thriving teams.
“We all know that we’ve gone through a lot of change, so where have we landed - we’ve seen progression through this pandemic, which is not over yet, but it’s created a huge impact on how we do business,” says Lisa McGuire, CEO of the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC. “What’s next beyond the new normal is the theme we have landed on this year to help prepare those different audiences for dealing with that.”
So, who exactly is the audience? Picture Make It Safe 2022 as a professional gathering of industry leaders, experts, safety and human resources professionals hosted by a non-profit health and safety association. The atmosphere is friendly, confidential, informed and expert.
Make It Safe 2022 has four major topical tracks, but this one is focused on Leading the Next Normal. A major lesson learned from the pandemic is that business sustainability is as much about people as the environment. Healthy, thriving teams are the key to survival in today’s challenging business climate.
“Leadership is about dealing with so many challenges in this new normal, but how do we do that and how do we make decisions in that environment?” McGuire asked. “Part of what we’ll be talking about in the conference with the experts is how to cope with stress, how to build resilience in your team, and how to manage through that stress knowing that you can only manage one problem at a time.”
How about employee retention and training? How do employers attract the sometimes-maligned Millennial or Generation Z worker? According to McGuire, those aren’t always the right questions to begin with – it’s about emphasizing and capitalizing on what younger employees bring to the workforce while also adapting to having older people in the working ranks as well.
“We have to think about how we bring all those demographics together in a working culture that’s successful,” McGuire said. “We have to be prepared to be investing in skills because the way we work is changing, especially in manufacturing. Technological adaptation is happening faster and more people are leaving the workforce than entering, so we have to be able to equip and adapt our workplaces to do that successfully and skill people successfully to do the work and to do it well.”
Then there are the X’s and O’s of workplace safety. Some are happy to watch a PowerPoint presentation, others need hands-on instruction. Others still, simply glaze their eyes over. Successfully getting buy-in on health and safety protocols may not be the easiest or prettiest job, but it’s arguably the most important one.
“It is difficult because the traditional ways of learning, especially in a subject like health and safety, aren’t as engaging,” McGuire conceded. “People don’t tend to change until they have an accident. That’s just not acceptable. You can’t learn by having people get injured. We need to be able to think differently and invest in new tools to help ensure that training is effective.”
Any talk of a “new normal” can’t discount climate change. Whether it’s annual wildfires in the Interior or last year’s once-in-a-generation floods in the Fraser Valley, the implications of a warming planet are here and now. As such, the need to plan around those circumstances is a conversation that must be started.
“As businesses, talking about what’s next includes preparing our workplaces and people for change when climate emergencies impact our facilities,” McGuire says. “We have to talk about it before we have a crisis as opposed to it only being on the agenda when it’s happening.”