Often, companies are quick to say they are ready to respond to any crisis. When I ask to see a copy of their plan, there is usually a lengthy pause followed by a statement such as, “I will get you a copy.” For some reason, the copy never materializes.
As the safety and environment manager for manufacturing firm Valeant Pharmaceuticals in Steinbach, Man., Duthie has not only served as proponent of the company’s safety programs, but as a teacher of safety to whoever is willing to learn.
For people looking to make a career in health and safety, having Duthie as a mentor is “second to none,” says Priscilla Jones, a safety specialist at Valeant Pharmaceuticals. Jones nominated Duthie for the COS Safety Leader of the Year award.
“Jim, with his vast closet of knowledge and experience, is a mentor not only for those that have worked for him, but also those that he’s been employed by,” Jones says in her submission.
Tom Van Aarsen was one of the many who Duthie has mentored in the past.
“Gaining CRSP certification is tough — but with Jim’s guidance and tutoring, I was able to sail through it,” says Van Aarsen, who is now an environmental health and safety specialist at a pharmaceutical firm in Cambridge, Ont.
Duthie came out as the winner in this year’s nationwide search for Safety Leader of the Year.
A 26-year health and safety veteran, Duthie has worked both sides of the occupational health and safety aisle: first as a health and safety inspector for the Manitoba government, then a health and safety manager for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) and subsequently for Valeant Pharmaceuticals, where he has been working for the last five years.
What he enjoyed most as a government health and safety inspector was being out in the community and meeting different people, Duthie says.
“I used to say one of the best parts about my job is I get to go to a different workplace everyday,” says Duthie. “I worked in a lot of areas I have never been before — woodworking, furniture making, window manufacturing — and it was all to me very interesting.”
This motivated him to pursue a career in health and safety, though it was not necessarily representative of his educational background.
Duthie has a degree in Zoology from Brandon University. After getting his degree, he worked for the City of Brandon’s engineering department where he was assigned to construction projects. He then became involved with the union and the union’s safety committee.
It was through his work in the safety committee that the opportunity to work as a health and safety officer for the provincial government arose.
Most of what Duthie knows about health and safety management he learned on the job. During the course of his safety career, he obtained his certificate in occupational safety from the University of Manitoba. He is also a Canadian Registered Safety Professional (CRSP).
Working in the OHS field opened Duthie’s mind to the realities of the workplace and his goal quickly turned into a purpose.
“As time wore on, my motivation became more in, ‘how can we stop some of the terrible toll that industrial accidents are having on people?’” Duthie explains.
In all those years as a government health and safety officer, Duthie found himself trying to find a “better way” for people to be more engaged in their own safety.
“I recognized that no matter where you work — whether in a farm or a factory, out in the field or indoors — the essential attitude of people all the way along is that they are just trying to get the job done the best they could with what they have available.”
The kind of provisions for people to work safely is what makes the difference between a safe and unsafe workplace, he says.
Working at the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) — from 2001 to 2008 — gave Duthie an opportunity to build a health and safety management system from the ground up. At the time, the health care sector was lacking in compliance with OHS legislation, Duthie says.
“The department of labour at that time has started really paying attention to health care. And so there was quite a few visits happening around the region… a lot of the facilities were getting quite extensive orders.”
By the time Duthie left WRHA in 2008, he has reached the position of manager for safety, health and environment — the first at WRHA.
A former member of his team at the WRHA recalls Duthie’s “patience and mentorship” at a time when the organization was struggling to meet OHS compliance.
“Without Jim’s patience and mentorship, it would have been a long haul for me as a new safety co-ordinator,” says Ethelinda Padua, now a health and safety specialist with the University of Winnipeg.
As safety and environment manager at Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Duthie looks after the safety of about 500 employees. He says he was fortunate when he joined the company because he was coming into an organization with an already established health and safety system.
One of the areas Duthie started to focus on, and felt needed a little extra attention at Valeant, was ergonomics. He encouraged the two members of his safety team — one of whom is Jones — to get trained and certified in ergonomics.
Duthie has been trained in ergonomics through the course of his career, but he needed to enable his team to make good judgments around ergonomic improvements. He felt it essential for his staff to be trained and certified in ergonomics as well.
Ergonomics has become part of the job hazard analysis for any new piece of equipment or any new or changing process within Valeant’s work environment, Duthie says.
“Also, for any incidents relating to ergonomics we review the whole situation and look if there’s some way we can improve ergonomics in that area,” Duthie explains. “We’re not looking to replace every workstation with completely adjustable ergonomic equipment — although we have done that as well — but we also look at reducing the amount of physical strain people have to go through to do their jobs.”
Because of the physical diversity in the workforce, the ergonomic requirements of each worker may be different even though they are doing the same job, Duthie says. It is important to educate workers on the various ways they can make their workspace and work habits ergonomically sound.
Communication goes both ways at Valeant, says Duthie, with the safety message coming from both management and workers. Workers are always encouraged to bring up issues and concerns about health and safety, and sometimes, even come up with suggestions for improvement, he says.
“You need to look at the people who do the work for the solutions and give them more than a pat on the back when they come up with them, but also encourage them so that it feeds down the line,” says Duthie.
Duthie takes advantage of every opportunity to talk with workers about workplace safety. At Valeant’s weekly “town hall” — a staff meeting held every Wednesday where leaders from the company are given an opportunity to talk to employees — Duthie is a frequent speaker.
He uses these town hall meetings to communicate trends, issues, concerns, statistics and upcoming training and events related to health and safety.
“It’s only 15 to 20 minutes and we want to make it interesting and fun,” says Duthie. “It can’t be just a ‘work safe or you’ll get fired’ kind of presentation. It has to be interesting.”
The yearly North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week — held the first week of May — is another opportunity for Duthie to communicate and celebrate safety with his workers. Duthie heads a planning committee that plans and produces a week full of activities aimed at promoting safety awareness among workers, both on and off the job. Valeant’s NAOSH Week celebrations have also earned the company multiple awards in the past.
One of the more visible improvements in Valeant’s health and safety culture is the openness of its workers to bring up any health and safety concerns. Duthie says this is a consequence of his own approach to safety management: spending time with people.
“I believe that as a safety person you can’t just sit in the safety office and review statistics. I believe you have to get out there, talk to people, see them at lunch, get to know the people,” Duthie says.
With the combination of town hall meetings, safety celebrations and personal conversations, Valeant has raised the profile of safety across the organization, Duthie says. These achievements, however, would not have been possible without complete management support.
The company’s vice-president, Tony Martinez — to whom Duthie reports — actively supports the company’s safety initiatives, Duthie says. He is constantly seen around the plant doing a walk-through, and conducts safety inspections with Duthie or with other junior management.
“I think the biggest, most important thing in any workplace — no matter where it is, in my experience — if the management supports and leads safety and makes it clear to supervisors and managers and… to the workers that they are involved and interested in safety and that it matters, you will have a safer workplace,” Duthie says.
At Valeant, management involvement in safety is evident. All of the company directors are members of the main health and safety committee. Each of the subcommittees also has one member from the management team.
When it comes to safety, Duthie says, the management at Valeant Pharmaceuticals is “not just saying it, it’s doing it.”
“Walk the talk. That is actively done here and I think that is probably one of the keys to success here.”
One of the challenges many health and safety professionals face in the workplace is being able to effect change. Most of the time, safety practitioners ask people to change the way they have traditionally done their job for the sake of safety.
That’s not always an easy sell, says Duthie.
“As a government inspector you write the order, you check for compliance, you go back. Are they complying? You walk away and… you could believe that that’s going to be good forever or it might be just that they go back to the way they were.”
Working as a safety professional for a company, however, has given him more flexibility to make the kind of changes he only hoped for when he was working on the other side of the fence, says Duthie.
No matter which side of the OHS aisle you work, however, there is only one ultimate goal — keeping workplaces and workers safe, Duthie says.
To attain this goal, he adds, understanding human nature is key.
“You’ve got to remember that every person is an individual,” Duthie says. “They have individual lives and needs, they have individual understanding and attitude, and you have to actually look at it that way, rather than the sort of generalization that I think sometimes people get into.”
And the only way to uncover this individualism and understand what people’s needs are is to talk to them and see things from their point of view, he says.
This kind of wisdom is something Duthie learned from all those years of investigating incidents.
“When I would do incident investigation for workplace safety and I would be interviewing a manager or a witness or even the injured worker, they all had a story to tell, they all had perspective on what had happened. It does not necessarily mean it’s the right or the wrong perspective. It just means that here’s what they saw, and to do the job right (as a safety manager) you have to understand what their vision is, what they saw, what they believe they saw,” Duthie explains.
At this point in Duthie’s OHS career, retirement is on the horizon. But as much as he contemplates what he would do after retirement, he is also thinking about how he would leave a legacy for the next safety manager who would take his place.
He plans to accomplish this by building a solid safety and health management system for Valeant Pharmaceuticals.
“That is mainly what I want right now. So if I were to leave the company, I hope to leave behind good structure for whoever the next safety person is going to be,” says Duthie.
When it comes to influencing workers to behave safely, leaders need to show them how it’s done. Recent studies have shown a direct link between workers’
perception of the priority their leaders place on safety and their attitude
towards working safely.
What you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say - Emerson
This important and highly observant quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson says a great deal about the importance of the behaviour of company leaders in establishing the safety culture of the company. So if you’re an owner, manager or supervisor please read on and we’ll explore the significance that leadership behaviour and conversations can have on your company’s safety success.
"The organizations included in I Love Rewards' 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awardâ„¢ have created an environment where engaged employees truly are their greatest assets," says Razor Suleman, CEO and founder, I Love Rewards. "As the leading rewards and recognition solution provider helping companies engage its employees, it is an honour to award top employers who understand the importance of their people and share their best practices with others on how to foster employee engagement. Congratulations to all this year's winners, you are an inspiration to other businesses looking to drive engagement in their own organizations."
The panel of judges evaluated each applicant on how they measured up to other organizations based on the Eight Elements of Employee Engagement. The Eight Engagement of Employee Engagement include: Communication, Leadership, Culture, Rewards & Recognition, Professional & Personal Growth, Accountability & Performance, Vision & Values and Corporate Social Responsibility.
I Love Rewards' 50 Most Engaged Workplaces(TM) listed in alphabetical order:
2. Access America Transport Inc.
3. Aird & Berlis LLP
4. American Express
5. Apex Distribution Inc
6. Bayer Inc.
7. B.C. Housing
8. BlueCat Networks
9. Carswell, a Thomson Reuters business
10. Century 21 Canada Limited Partnership
11. Cliffstar Corporation
12. ConAgra Foods Canada Inc.
14. Delta Hotels and Resorts
15. Empathica Inc.
16. Flight Centre
17. Fusenet Inc
18. Gap Adventures
19. Genesis Hospitality Inc.
20. Highmark, Inc.
21. Hydro Ottawa
22. IQ PARTNERS Inc.
23. Kootenay Savings Credit Union
25. M5 Networks
26. Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd.
27. Marriott Hotel- Calgary and Edmonton
28. Medcan Clinic
29. Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC
30. Meridian Credit Union
31. Milestones Restaurants Inc.
32. Molson Coors Canada
33. NetSuite Inc.
34. peopleCare Inc.
35. Polar Mobile Group Inc.
36. Royal SunAlliance Insurance Company
38. SIRIUS Satellite Radio Canada
39. Softchoice Corp
40. Speakers' Spotlight
41. Supply Chain Management
42. Syncapse Corp
44. Varicent Software Incorporated
45. We Care Home Health Services
46. William Osler Health System (Osler)
48. XO Communications
49. Young & Rubicam
50. Zappos.com, Inc and its Affiliates
Recipients of I Love Rewards' Most Engaged Workplaces Awardwill be honoured at an awards gala on September 9, 2010 at the Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto, Ontario.
I Love Rewards is a leader in results-driven employee rewards and recognition solutions. Top employers in North America choose I Love Rewards for its proven best practices in launching and sustaining successful, ROI-based programs. Our focus is to recruit, retain and inspire employees and align them to company goals. We believe that engaged, motivated employees drive the results most important to business success. For more information on the award visit www.iloverewards.com/engaged.
The study, conducted by Psychometrics Canada, a leading assessment publisher and consultant for the development and selection of people in business, government and education, which involved a poll of 517 human resources professionals across Canada, confirms that leadership is seen as an important area of organizational functioning and development. The majority (63.2 per cent) see leaders as having a lot of influence over their organizations’ success, with only 2.5 per cent reporting that leaders have very little influence. The most common effects of good leadership are increased motivation (85.5 per cent), improved working relationships (85.1 per cent), higher team performance (80.7 per cent), better solutions to problems (68.9 per cent), and major innovations (41.6 per cent).
Leadership does have its downside, however. When not properly used, leadership can have negative effects. HR professionals have witnessed good people quitting and a lack of morale (91.7 per cent), employees’ skills not being utilized (87.2 per cent), feuding staff members (68.3 per cent), and failed projects (60 per cent). Three-quarters (76 per cent) have also witnessed a disconnection between the organization’s goals and its employees’ work.
"These figures should be a strong alert to organizations that poor leadership could be causing them major problems,” says Shawn Bakker, psychologist at Psychometrics Canada. "Our results show that leadership is influential, and organizations with effective leadership in place are realizing a wide range of benefits including increased financial performance and improved work relationships."
When asked to rate the importance of various leadership skills to success, 90 per cent of respondents reported that communication is critically important, followed by dealing with change (52.6 per cent), managing people (48.2 per cent), setting goals (37.5 per cent), solving problems (30.3 per cent), and project management (12 per cent).
The study also uncovered a serious gap between the ratings of importance for these skills and leaders’ current level of effectiveness. Only 27.8 per cent of respondents rated leaders’ communication skills as effective, even though nine out of 10 see communication as a critical skill. Twenty-four per cent of respondents indicated that the leaders they know are not effective when it comes to dealing with change.
Respondents cited a number of obstacles that get in the way of today’s leaders developing their skills. These include leaders not seeing the need for improvement (67.5 per cent), not having enough time (63.1 per cent), lacking support from superiors (50.1 per cent), and having inadequate training budgets (41.6 per cent).
Recommendations for leaders
Recommendations for leaders to be more effective included:
- talking less and listening more (81.4 per cent),
- providing clear expectations (78.1 per cent),
- having more informal interaction with staff (75.6 per cent),
- clearly communicating how the organization plans to manage change (89.4 per cent),
- assigning tasks to staff based on their skills rather than office politics (71.4 per cent),
- holding people accountable (67.7 per cent),
- giving employees more responsibility (64.6 per cent),
- overcoming resistance to change (48 per cent), and
- deferring to people with greater expertise (63.1 per cent).
“What surprised me from our research was that, even with the understanding that leadership is key for organizational success, the leaders themselves were not actively pursuing their own development – despite the opportunities available,” says Mark Fitzsimmons, president of Psychometrics Canada.
To read the complete report, visit www.psychometrics.com/docs/leadership.pdf.
- From November through December 2009, Psychometrics Canada surveyed 517 HR professionals currently working in Canadian organizations. These individuals work in business, government, consulting, education and not-for-profit sectors.
- The majority of people see leaders as influential. Yet, six out of 10 people also believe that leaders are given too much credit for what their organization accomplishes. So although leadership is significant, its impact may be overstated.
- It does not matter whether leaders are in business, government, consulting, education, or not-for-profit; the ranking of skills’ importance does not change.
- Three out of four HR professionals have seen feeble management of people lead to wasted time, duplicated efforts and poor working relationships. More than half of the survey respondents have observed team members working against each other as a result of ineffective leadership.
- Other problems that come from poor leaders are missed opportunities, workplace conflict, increased sick days and absences, and qualified people being shown the door.
- 10.8 per cent of respondents have seen the inability to lead through change result in a company going out of business.
- Almost three-quarters have seen employees resist change that management proposes because it was poorly managed.
- 67.3 per cent of respondents said the ideal leader for their organization would be “someone who is democratic and involved, focuses on working with and through people.”
- Based on a sample of 26,477 leaders (Center for Creative Leadership), 40 per cent of people in leadership roles today are described as being thorough, orderly and focused on organizational stability and consolidating systems. Thirty-nine per cent of leaders say their style is being pragmatic and analytical, and focusing on the development of long-range, comprehensive plans. Only 12 per cent of today’s leaders have a primary style that is democratic and involved.
Right Management’s white paper, entitled “Ready, Get Setâ€¦Change! The Impact of Change on Workforce Productivity and Engagement,” summarizing the key findings drawn from research of 28,000 employees in 15 countries. The paper serves to demystify the change process and highlight key engagement drivers that senior leaders can use to effectively improve change management initiatives and results.
“Employee engagement is a key driver of organizational effectiveness and directly impacts productivity and profitability,” says Deborah Schroeder-Saulnier, senior vice president for global solutions at Right Management. “It’s a critical measure of person-organization alignment, expressed as employee satisfaction, commitment, pride and advocacy. Disengaged employees negatively impact productivity, customer retention, morale and satisfaction on the job.”
Schroeder-Saulnier notes that change is necessary for companies to evolve and respond to dynamic market conditions. “Given the constant need to navigate rapid change, such as organization restructurings, revamped product lines or the appointment of a new leader, it is imperative that organizations introduce systems to help their entire workforce to participate in and adapt to change. Leaders need to involve their workforce in change, not just impose it. They can be more effective in implementing changes by understanding behaviours that create obstacles. Agile organizations can be trained to embrace change, not only as a one-time event, but on an ongoing basis.”
Key findings from the global study include:
- Best performing organizations manage change nearly four times more effectively. In top-performing companies (defined as those achieving higher revenue and above-average customer loyalty profit results), 60 per cent of employees responded that “change is handled effectively in my organization,” compared to 16 per cent of employees in below-average performing organizations.
- Less than half (43 per cent ) of employees are confident in their organization’s change process. One in three employees believes their organization does not handle change effectively.
- The biggest downfall for senior leaders is the perception that they do not follow through on what they say they will do. Less than half (47 per cent ) agreed that senior leaders communicated change effectively; 54 per cent of employees doubted senior leaders’ ability to respond appropriately to changing external conditions.
- Organizations that do not manage change well are four times more likely to lose talent. Twenty per cent of employees who perceived change was not handled effectively indicated they planned to leave within one year versus only 5 per cent of employees who held a favourable view. The latter planned to stay for at least five years.
- Ineffective change management can lead to lower levels of job confidence. Of the employees who reported that change management was not handled well, 45 per cent expressed favourable feelings about not losing their job within 12 months, while 32 per cent did not. This is in stark contrast to organizations with effective change management, where 80 per cent of respondents had positive feelings about keeping their job versus only 7 per cent who did not.
- Ineffective change management negatively impacts an organization’s ability to attract talent. When employees reported that change was managed poorly in their organizations, 75 per cent of respondents had concerns with their company’s ability to attract talent.
Schroeder-Saulnier notes that employees are not always prepared to successfully embrace change, thwarting the organization’s ability to meet objectives. “Change is often perceived as threatening and can be distracting and disruptive to your organization’s ability to operate efficiently. Employees need to be treated as more than passive recipients of change.”
Right Management surveyed 28,810 employees across 10 industries in 15 countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Demark, France, Germany, India, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States). The data was collected between November 2008 and January 2009.
Right Management (www.right.com) is the talent and career management expert within Manpower, the global leader in employment services.