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  • Writer's pictureDealerPILOT HR

Safety Culture vs Safety Compliance

If there is one word that could have summarized business operations in 2021 it could have been compliance.

Ensuring that we met multiple ( and changing) standards in nearly every area of operations was a daunting task. It was also one that taught us many things. For many dealerships one of those lessons was that getting everyone to be complaint is tough.

Why is that?

Innately, people have a desire to do things when there is something in it for them (WIFM) and many compliance related issues do not express that well.

A key area where we see this everyday is safety. IS your dealership frustrated by having to continually remind people to abide by safety processes? Do you have a difficult time finding volunteers to participate in safety initiatives? DO you get palpitations when you here there is a blitz in your area?

These are all possible indicators that your dealership may need to consider a shift from trying to be safety compliant to having a safety culture.

So, what is a safety culture?

A strong safety culture is one where there are shared values, leadership and overarching principles that drive people to value safety ( physical, emotional, cultural and psychological) as an ingrained part of who you are and what you do. A strong safety culture is made up of these key elements on the organization that influence the workplace:

  • management commitment and style;

  • employee involvement;

  • training and competence;

  • communication;

  • compliance with procedures; and

  • organizational learning.

If you are trying to enforce safety in the dealership simply because the law says so, you are missing out on some great opportunities to make safety simpler. Without the WIFM, leadership , and total cultural drive, you may find yourself being the "Safety Police" because staff do not see that it is part of your values (or theirs) .

Once you demonstrate that safety is part of your culture, something of value and benefit to both the dealership and staff, your new safety culture will become increasingly compliant by default.

Here are a few quick "self-audit" questions to see where you can improve your own safety culture:

1) Are safety related meetings often cancelled or postponed because other things are deemed more important?

2) Have you ever overheard someone in the dealership express that a safety process is a waste of time?

3) Do you have difficulty getting staff participation in safety related activities like training, committee work or safe work procedures?

4) Does leadership present needed safety changes or improvements as an expense or investment?

5) When someone (regardless of the role) joins the dealership, are they introduced to your safety processes, safety handbook and the people involved?

If any of these are areas that apply to your dealership, there may be an opportunity to shift to a stronger safety culture so that you no longer need to push so hard for safety compliance. Safety as a priority starts from leadership and can drive stronger profits, better retention and greater engagement while simplifying your compliance by embedding it in the culture.

If you are struggling to ensure that your dealership has safety as a focus, it may be time for some added help. Email us at to learn more about our safety technology, advisory, documentation and support.

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