While the concept of branding may seem more appropriate for an advertising campaign, it can have significant benefits for your joint health and safety committee (JHSC) and workplace. "Branding is a tool your JHSC can utilize to communicate who, what and why they are," says Yvonne O'Reilly of O'Reilly Health and Safety Consulting.
Branding your committee involves creating a unique motto or tag line and a visual identity that the committee can use to define and communicate its role, and enhance its presence in the workplace. The benefits include:
- raising awareness of who you are and the scope of your activities. In a recent workshop led by Yvonne, a new committee member identified their role as enforcing legislative requirements, which opened the door to a useful discussion clarifying committee members' actual roles and responsibilities.
- getting everyone on the same page. "It's important to ensure everyone is clear on when to bring an issue to their supervisor, and when to approach the committee," says Yvonne. "Supervisors have a clear legal responsibility under the Internal Responsibility System (IRS) to respond to workers' concerns, and they are not able to fulfill it if there isn't an open channel between them and the workers."
- keeping committee members focused on achieving their goals.
How to build your JHSC's brand
As the new year approaches, many committees are taking stock of what they've achieved and what their goals are for 2020. There may also have been a change in membership over the year, and together these provide an opportunity for the committee to renew, refocus or rebuild.
Your committee can accomplish this by conducting a workshop that involves all members. Where available, draw on workplace resources such as communications and training staff. Here are five suggested steps from Yvonne:
- Build your foundation. This exercise involves everyone contributing a key word or phrase to identify what they want the committee to achieve or the qualities to be known for. Combine and post everyone’s contribution on a board or table. This becomes your foundation, which you can use to keep the committee grounded and clear on its intent.
- As a group, create one sentence that summarizes the committee's goal or mission. This is an excellent consensus building exercise but allow sufficient time because every word matters. The process is especially effective when you have new members participating, and everyone has the opportunity to contribute as part of a team.
- From your statement, determine a short phrase or motto to use as your brand. One of Yvonne's favourite taglines comes from the safety committee at Trinity International University in Illinois. Set up as a logo with hazard warning graphics, it reads: To Inform • To Alert • To Protect. "It really clarifies what the committee's role is," she says.
- Brainstorm how best to communicate the brand. For example, place your committee's tagline on all communications, including minutes, flyers, newsletters, recommendations to the employer, emails, and event posters.
- Assess the effectiveness of your branding exercise by seeking feedback from stakeholders on how they see your role and contributions before your introduce the branding, and 6 to 12 months later.
How WSPS can help
A strong brand is useful only so long as your committee is effective. To maximize the effectiveness of your committee or health and safety representative, we offer Certification Part One and Part Two training (all sectors and sector specific), e-courses, free downloads, and more
* Yvonne O'Reilly is a CRSP, the owner of O'Reilly Health & Safety Consulting, and a part time instructor for the U of T School of Continuing Studies. Based in Stratford, Ontario, she assists organizations to effectively implement their OHS management system. Services include program development, due diligence and awareness training, compliance audits, and JHSC workshops.