How to Choose the Right Leading Indicators to Improve Employee Health and Workplace Safety

Choosing the right leading indicators can make a big impact on employee health and workplace safety and be a game-changer for an organization’s safety performance. These powerful tools provide early warning signs of potential problems and help leaders stay ahead of the curve by making proactive decisions rather than simply reacting to past events. 

However, selecting the right leading indicators isn’t always easy. In this article, we will explore ways companies can avoid common issues and strategic steps to take to identify the best leading indicators for their needs.

Defining Leading Indicators

Before we dive into how to choose leading indicators, it’s essential that we clarify what they are. Leading indicators are metrics that help predict future performance, in contrast with lagging indicators, which measure past performance. 

Leading indicators help identify potential health and workplace safety hazards or risks before an incident occurs. They’re an early warning sign of what’s to come and can help organizations proactively focus their time and resources where it matters most.

An example of a leading indicator is the number of monthly safety inspections conducted. Tracking the frequency and thoroughness of these inspections can provide valuable insights into potential safety risks or hazards before they become serious incidents. 

By monitoring leading indicators, organizations can take proactive steps to identify and mitigate potential health and workplace safety hazards, ultimately reducing the likelihood of severe incidents and improving overall safety performance.

Steps to Choosing Leading Indicators

Let’s look at the steps companies can take to choose the right leading indicators for their organization.

Identify the organization’s strategic goals

The first step in selecting leading indicators is identifying the organization’s strategic goals. For example, what does the company hope to achieve in the short and long term? They may want to reduce lost time incidents, improve safety culture, or reduce overall EHS management program costs. After identifying these goals, leaders can work backward to determine what metrics will best measure progress toward those goals.

Determine the appropriate metrics to track progress toward goals

Next, leaders need to decide which metrics would be most effective in measuring progress toward their strategic objectives. For example, if the goal is to reduce injuries, managers might track metrics such as the number of safety inspections and training completion rate. Similarly, if the goal is to improve the company’s safety culture, metrics such as the number of near-miss reports or action item closure rates may help measure employee participation.

Evaluate the feasibility and availability of data for each metric

After identifying potential metrics, leaders must assess the practicality and accessibility of data for each metric. Ask yourself, is the data readily available, and can it be easily measured and tracked? If the data is difficult or time-consuming to collect and you can’t track it over time, it may not be the best choice as a leading indicator.

Narrow down the metrics based on relevance and impact

After evaluating the practicality of the data, managers should narrow down the potential metrics based on relevance and impact. For example, which metrics align best with the organization’s strategic goals, and which have an impact on achieving those goals? 

Remember, just because a metric is easy to measure does not necessarily mean it’s a good choice. Leading indicators must align closely with the organization’s strategic goals and core values. Therefore, if a metric does not impact business outcomes, it may not be the best choice as a leading indicator.

Test and refine the selected metrics

Finally, after narrowing down the metrics, managers should test and refine them over time. This process may involve adjusting the data collection process or revisiting the metric altogether. Again, the goal is to ensure that the selected leading indicators provide the most accurate and actionable insights possible.

ProcessMAP can help

Leading indicators are powerful, but identifying and using that data is sometimes easier said than done, especially when your EHS management system doesn’t offer powerful analytics to help. EHS software can help

ProcessMAP’s suite of EHS software solutions helps companies digitize, standardize, and analyze safety data across their entire organization, allowing them to take full advantage of their leading indicators. Schedule a demo today to learn more about how ProcessMAP can help move your organization’s safety and health program from reactive to proactive and create a safer, more compliant workplace.

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