Safety is important in many industries, like restaurants, factories, healthcare, and transportation (to name just a few). Because there are people that may not take the safest approach at work, which could result in injury, measuring this competency is extremely important. To evaluate this competency in the most predictive way, we measure traits associated with behaviors that affect safety.
Understanding operations and equipment, knowing related hazards and risks, as well as encouraging others to do the same, are all behaviors that people who are the best at safety practice.
Over three decades of research and experience have shown us that three main traits can be measured to determine how likely a person is to practice safe work habits on the job. By knowing where a person falls on each of these scales, hiring people who are the best for a role that requires safety becomes incredibly easier and more predictive.
- Serious-Minded/ Restrained
This scale measures a person’s tendency to be serious, careful and cautious as opposed to making decisions quickly in a situation. When it comes to safety, being careful and thinking about things before acting is extremely important.
The low side of Serious-Minded/Restrained is where people usually fall when they come to conclusions too quickly. These people may be comfortable responding to situations on short notice and take extra risk when making decisions. Of course, having very low restraint has its downsides. When employees score extremely low, they may tend to make decisions they’ll later regret, be impulsive, and draw conclusions without considering the outcomes. As a result, scoring low on Serious-Minded, Restrained has been associated with poor safety behaviors.
The high end of this scale is where people fall when they tend to be more serious and calculating in their decision making process. These people may be more responsible and deliberate in their actions, and are unlikely to take unnecessary risks at work. Taken to the extreme, these employees may be overly cautious and risk adverse. In some cases this behavior is unideal, but when roles require safety and precaution, the more restraint, the better.
- Need for Freedom
This scale deals with the extent of personal freedom and independence a person seeks at work. The more comfortable a person is at functioning in a structured work environment, the more likely they are to follow precautions and safety procedures.
When people score on the low end of this scale, it means they generally show little need for personal freedom and are more comfortable working in a structured environment. They may accept direction and regulations without feeling imposed upon, and are less likely to feel constrained by organizational bureaucracies. People who fall on this side of the scale have an easier time staying productive without feeling constrained in an environment where safety and structure are key aspects of a job. Consequently, these people tend to be the best at following organizational safety procedures.
The higher end of this scale is where people fall if they prefer a more independent working style and have a higher need for organizational freedom. These people may look for alternative ways to work if they feel that the set rules aren’t efficient enough, and are unlikely to follow rules that don’t make sense to them and their idea of personal freedom.
To the extreme, people who score high on this scale may resist direction and require more effort to manage, as well as have more difficulty adapting to a regulated and structured business setting. These behaviors are not ideal for roles that require employees to follow safety guidelines, especially if there is the risk of injury or harm on the job.
- Detail Orientation
This scale helps decipher whether a person is attentive to details or not. When people have accuracy and pay attention to the things they do, they’re not likely to make careless mistakes, which could end up causing injury or generally unsafe work environments.
If a person falls on the low end of this scale, it could mean they dislike tasks requiring detail orientation. People here are unlikely to spend time focusing on details, and may be better at big picture thinking. In some cases they may overlook important information and become impatient when given the responsibility of a project that requires attention to detail. This could cause them to have to re-work a project which wastes time, or make risky or unsafe mistakes.
When people pay attention to what they’re working on, the likelihood of making an unsafe error is extremely low. When people fall on the high end of this scale, they are likely to enjoy and perform well doing detailed work. Here, people are less likely to make careless mistakes, and expect a high quality of work from themselves and others. Instead of rushing to complete a task, they take enough time to ensure that their work is done correctly.
Because these three scales help predict whether or not a person exhibits safe practices at work, assessing candidates for them before you decide to hire is important. This helps you learn more about a person and how their behaviors could affect the way they perform. When it comes to employee safety, the difference between assessing and not assessing could potentially save someone from injury as well as help with an organization’s bottom line.
The Competency Spotlight series focuses on the personality traits measured by OutMatch job-fit assessments, and how these traits impact performance. No one measure can say with 100% accuracy how an employee will behave, but considering these competencies can help you identify candidates that are ‘prewired’ to be more successful than others in a particular job type.