Internal communication, the key to introducing well-being into corporate culture
28 of October of 2022
In just a few years, the concept of corporate health and safety has undergone a transformation. It has gone from being a norm that companies had to ensure to being a key value of organizations’ cultures. The concept of well-being has also been added and, with it, a shift in mentality that has reached employees.
At our company, the role played by the Internal Communication area has been essential as a vehicle for bringing this change to all locations and businesses by selecting the most appropriate channels and tailoring the messages for each audience.
Today, we have made significant strides in adopting a culture of health, safety, and well-being that puts employees at the heart of everything and empowers them to speak up when they see a risk.
A shift in mindset
The traditional view of the concept of health and safety focused only on preventing occupational risks. The concept was regulated and followed at all times, but there was no real awareness of all that it entailed.
In recent years, a movement throughout the sector (and in society at large) has turned this reality on its head. The concept has evolved to encompass the idea of well-being, as well; this has to do with mental health, the importance of physical exercise, and other factors that impact our quality of life.
At Ferrovial, this social movement coincided with the launch of a new Corporate Health, Safety, and Well-being strategy. The Internal Communication department, working hand in hand with the Health and Safety division, began working on a communication plan. Its objective was to get workers involved through messages that invited them to reflect on the importance of safety in their daily work and informed them about their power in decision-making.
Over time, these workers went from having a passive role, where they received information, to an active one, where they had tools for pointing out any problem. All this has generated a profound, significant shift in mindset and has led to the creation of a new corporate culture regarding safety.
Children’s drawings and yellow cards
Some of the initiatives that can be developed to convey the value of health, safety, and well-being have been proven to have a significant impact. A good example is organizing a children’s drawing contest to decorate the next year’s corporate calendar.
With this initiative, the objective is to encourage workers to explain what health and safety means for them to their families. Stopping to think about the topic to explain it to their little ones gets them to reflect on its importance.
In this particular initiative, we received a large number of drawings, many more than originally expected. Surely, many participants think that the most important thing is for their child to win a gift. However, we know that what they really take away is having internalized the importance of health, safety, and well-being in their day-to-day life and at their jobs.
Another project my company has developed directly appeals to workers’ possibilities of expressing themselves. The Department of Health, Safety, and Corporate Welfare, with support from Internal Communication, created a few yellow cards (similar to referees’) that were sent to employees at all locations. These symbolized the workers’ ability to speak up and stop work in a risky situation.
We’ve heard real stories of workers who have symbolically used their cards. In the construction being carried out at Heathrow Airport, for example, a security officer decided to stop work a few minutes before they started due to a thunderstorm warning. He did this despite the fact that everything had been organized so that high authorities from the city of London and even the client were present. A few years ago, this would have been unthinkable. Today, corporate philosophy and culture have changed.
The importance of communication
These initiatives are possible thanks to a transformation in the classic view of communication, which was based solely on writing an announcement, making a poster, or sending an e-mail. Internal communication is reinventing itself: it is constantly evolving by developing different messages, channels, and strategies to be able to really reach employees.
Its impact has been made possible, too, thanks to a shift in mindset. Ten years ago, it was very rare to find communication measures on occupational risk prevention in Spain that went beyond a poster with instructions. Today, we give health and well-being the importance they deserve.
Within corporations, it is also important to ensure collaboration between different areas and departments. Internal communication once again plays a fundamental role in this regard by coordinating the different initiatives, seeking to achieve the greatest impact and, above all, having clear objectives that are aligned with the company’s strategy.
The pandemic has changed our priorities and the way we work. Now, Internal Communication plays a more significant role, and the concepts of health, safety, and well-being have gained importance. We have strengthened our corporate culture, putting employees at the heart of it all.
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