Implementing a lone worker policy into your business is the best way to protect your lone workers, whether you have dedicated lone worker alarms or not.
It ensures that every member of your team has a good understanding of the range of practices that will keep them safe, and have the confidence and permission to embed them into their everyday work-life.
But, as you almost certainly know, writing a policy is the easy part-getting people to follow it is where is gets tricky.
So, we have rounded up the best ‘tried and tested’ tips we have come across during our long careers it the lone worker sector for effectively rolling out a lone worker policy.
Every employer has a duty of care towards their staff, whether they are lone workers or not, but people who work alone are particularly vulnerable to attack, injury, illness, or environmental dangers.
Embedding safe practices into everyday working life through a lone worker policy is the best way to ensure you are meeting your duty of care and the safety needs of your staff.
If you don’t already have a lone worker policy, have a look here for a guide on creating one.
Properly Launch And Train On It
We have all received emails like this before:
We have a new policy (attached). Please read and action immediately.
And we are all guilty of ignoring them. Or glancing through the policy and immediately forgetting what it contains (unless its really bad). Because our jobs come first, and we are busy.
Your Lone Worker policy is so important, you need to avoid making this mistake.
Taking your staff into a room, giving them a coffee and a biscuit, and talking them through the policy, why you have brought it in, and how it is going to impact their professional life will be so much more effective.
They will know you are serious about it and will fully understand the policy. Plus, they are much more likely to remember it!
Send Regular Reminders
Refresher training and regular reminders about the importance of the lone worker policy will mean more staff take it up.
Don’t just do the initial training and leave it until it is time to review it, or worse, until someone is hurt.
Reminders could be included in your staff newsletter, if you have one, on a shared notice board, or an online portal.
If you have daily, weekly, or monthly scrums or staff briefings, spend a moment reinforcing how important your lone worker policy is, why they should use it and potential consequences of not doing, whether they be sanctions or increased danger.
Decide If You Are Going To Impose Sanctions Or Offer Rewards
You might decide that you want to incentivise staff following the lone worker policy,
If you have a First2HelpYou lone worker device you will be able to use our Connect portal to see who has done the most amber alerts and is using their device most effectively. From there, you can give rewards.
Or, you might include a colleague’s adherence to the lone worker policy in the appraisal categories and enforce they follow it.
One company we know of does not let their staff work if they do not bring their lone worker device because they feel so strongly about the effectiveness of it.
Deciding to impose sanctions or rewards will depend on the culture generally within your business.
How Else Can I Ensure Take Up Of The Lone Worker Policy?
A lot of the hard work for getting staff buy in can and should be done before the policy is even written.
Below are some of the most effective ways we have found of increasing the likelihood of staff following the policy.
Get Staff Involved In Writing Your Lone Worker Policy
Your lone worker policy has a much better chance of succeeding if your staff feel like they have been a part of the creation of the policy.
Everyone hates being told they have to do something, but no one minds so much if it their own idea.
So, by asking your staff for their input, you are more likely to create a policy that they self police.
Plus, who else is going to give you a clearer insight into the dangers they face every day, and how they currently manage the risks than the same staff the policy is going to protect?
Creating a task force to help you scope and manage the policy is a fantastic way of getting some staff to buy in.
However, it is important to not create a hotchpotch of a policy that makes no sense! Collecting the data in a way you can manage is going to be half the battle.
If you have a small number of staff, you could send out a questionnaire, or ask everyone to put some ideas on post it notes. This wil help you quantify and categorise the date effectively.
If you have a large number of staff, you could ask each department to craft their own lone worker policy using clear parameters you set out.
All you need to do then is approve it.
Make The Lone Worker Policy Easy To Embed
Your lone workers are going to find it difficult to follow a lone worker policy that does not easily fit into their normal routine and means that take-up might be worse.
By choosing policies and actions that they can easily embed into their everyday work life means your staff will be safer.
This is one of the reasons why it is a good idea to have your staff body involved in the scoping of the policy.
If, for example, you know your staff have hour long appointment slots, but your policy states they have to activate the lone worker app every half hour, they are going to find the lone worker procedures difficult to follow and disruptive.
This will also make your life hard too, as you will be following up on breaches of the policy, or chasing staff you might be worried about who, in reality, and perfectly fine.
And don’t forget the ‘boy who cried wolf’ effect. If you become so used to staff not following the procedure, then what happens the one time a colleague actually does need help?
This also links into the next tip.
Don’t Make It Too Different
Don’t make the actions specified in the lone worker policy radically different to how your staff already behave and the other policies you have.
If your staff already let their team leader they are home safe by sending a text, then let them carry on with that practise, just make it official in your lone worker policy.
If your staff never use mobile phones or tablets in their work, then making them check in on an app might be too much for them to fit into their lives and they might not bother.
Having a dedicated lone worker device that is as simple as pressing a button might be the best option. Or a simple ‘check in/check out’ book might be a good option.
Whatever you decide to do, don’t introduce something radically different and it is more likely to be taken up.
Get in Touch
If you want some more advice on writing or implementing a lone worker policy, don’t hesitate to contact us. We have decades worth of experience in this sector and have helped every size of business protect their staff. Fill in our contact form here, or email firstname.lastname@example.org