EEF – win over business leaders


EEF is back with their regular guest column, this time Ian Hunter, Health, Safety and Sustainability Area Lead for EEF discusses how to win over business leaders.

The recent change in the Sentencing Guidelines and a greater appreciation of how a healthy workforce improves productivity are changing perceptions. However, for the health and safety manager there’s work to be done to win over business leaders. So how can this be done?

  1. Know your project’s value – Be clear about the balance of cost and tangible benefit in your proposal, using your knowledge of the process to work out where key benefits lie.
  2. Talk business risk – Getting health and safety wrong in today’s world will have significant impact on the business both financially and in reputational terms. Many decision makers will listen more carefully once they understand the business risk.
  3. Look beyond risk and think value – how you propose to implement your plan will be a key part of getting support, if you can look beyond risk and think how the project can add value to existing projects and activities.
  4. Sell the benefits – Stick to explaining the benefits once you have described what your project is about,  stakeholders want to know about the return on their investment and not the minutiae of implementation so keep it clear and succinct.
  5. Plan your communications – How you communicate your project is vital to its success, consider the key messages you’ve identified through the above and really focus on making sure they’re clear in your communications.
  1. Map your stakeholders – Understand who the stakeholders are and who you will need to win over, be systematic and consult where you can to gauge how they work and their preferences.
  1. Pre-empt the challenges with force field analysis – Take a steer from Isaac Newton and consider that every force has an equal and opposite reaction – by understanding the forces that promote and detract from your project you can build a successful plan.
  2. Human centred design – Being able to demonstrate benefits in accessibility and usability will significantly enhance the value of your project. Take time to ensure that your proposal considers ways to make life easier for your colleagues.
  3. Health and Well Being – Make sure you take the opportunity to promote health and being through your project. Improving perceptions about work has real benefits in reducing losses and creating motivation.
  4. Compromise – Don’t become a barrier to your own progress. Be ready to listen to the feedback of others and adjust accordingly. Expect that you probably haven’t got this completely right first time around.
  5. It’s all about you – Recognise your own limitations in making the case. Take time out to develop your business and influencing skills and your presentation skills.


By following this approach health and safety practitioners will develop and present compelling business cases in support of leadership buy-in and investment for SHE programmes and training within their organisation.  By appreciating the key drivers of their business HSE practitioners will be able to demonstrate to senior management and Boardrooms tangibly how investment in health and safety adds value and becomes an asset to the business’ strategy and success.


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