In October 2021, the team at Industrial Safety and Hygiene News ran a poll asking readers how their health and safety budget would change in 2022. As you can see from the featured image on this article, an overwhelming 91% of respondents indicated a DECREASE in budget!
So How Do We Interpret This Poll?
My immediate reaction was one of surprise. How at a time when risk, safety and health are so dominant in the news are we seeing a decrease in spend on health and safety? Surely corporate leaders are well aware of “the great resignation” and the importance of protecting the mental and physical wellbeing of their employees? The poll result felt completely counter-intuitive… which is always a signal to think more broadly.
After working through this emotional reaction, I switched to considering the business pressures that must certainly account for such a significant shift. No doubt there are numerous drivers including (but not limited to) global supply chain pressures, increased labor costs, and raw material shortages. However, this is not my area of expertise.
I quickly moved on to my third thought which came from my perspective as a supplier of information management software for EHS/HSE professionals. Implementing enterprise health and safety software should always elevate the quality and consistency of this important service; enterprise software must support an inclusive, collaborative culture of safety while generating a positive return on investment. In other words, the objective of enterprise software should be to produce consistently better outcomes while reducing the cost of health and safety.
This insight left me wondering how many companies currently facing budget cuts consider their enterprise software as a cost of doing business as opposed to a crucial strategic component of their efforts to reduce the cost of managing health and safety? Surely a question for another poll.
If corporate leadership is truly committed to sustainable health and safety management, then even in difficult times we must be creative in turning social and industry challenges into competitive advantage. As leaders we must do our best to never compromise on the important long-term outcomes for which we are responsible, but in times of adversity we must be tactically flexible in how we achieve these goals.