Few organizations weren’t blindsided by the pandemic and resulting economic upheaval of 2020. For many, this unplanned disruption highlighted weaknesses in processes and systems as well as opportunities to significantly enhance the value of the Environmental, Health & Safety (EHS) function to the overall business. Moving forward, we can capitalize on the lessons learned from the pandemic and fundamentally shift how we approach organizational risk management and responsibility for EHS. Most organizations view the need for regulatory compliance as a given and may even see EHS contributing to the cutting of operational costs through reductions in utilities usage and waste generation. But issues around sustainability, and more recently the Pandemic, have shown that EHS programs can deliver far more benefit when strategically restructured for proactive growth that aligns with overall business goals.
In our forthcoming whitepaper, we will discuss techniques and tools to strategically position your EHS programs. The questions to ask:
- What does an optimal program look like?
- How can you develop a holistic view of systems, cultural management, and unified integration?
- What are the proactive steps you can take to get where you need to go?
Here’s a quick preview to get you started.
Step 1: Program Assessment
The first step in refocusing EHS efforts is to establish a fundamental and honest understanding of your existing systems, risks, and requirements. With overall business goals in mind, it is important to evaluate baseline alignment of programs as well as applicable benchmarks with competitors and customers. Include assessments of how communication and data flow work throughout the organization with a focus on the cultural environment.
Step 2: Program Prioritization
Identify the EHS programs that are most important, most effective, and most flawed. Which programs help you meet compliance requirements, which further overall business goals, and what are you doing that doesn’t accomplish either? Use this analysis to prioritize the actions you should take that will have the greatest positive impact. Take into account stakeholders, sequential necessity, fiscal feasibility, resource requirements, and timeframe demands.
Build a new quantifiable framework with SMART goals, and repeatable systems and processes. Don’t forget to include a communication plan to support and evangelize the new EHS initiatives and get organizational buy-in from all levels. Having a carefully researched roadmap that has stakeholder buy-in and an integrated communication strategy built on data derived from the prioritization process will give you the foundation you need.
Step 3: Implementation & Optimization
As EHS becomes increasingly complex, spreadsheets and systems that don’t talk to each other have become a major hindrance for many organizations. Additionally, with every hand-off as data travels through an organization from the source, an increased risk of error with potentially significant consequences is introduced. Companies are increasingly recognizing the need for a robust software system, built specifically for managing EHS programs. Such software saves time and money, improves decision making, automates workflows and reporting, and makes it possible to pursue an EHS strategy that furthers overall business objectives.
2020 accelerated a shift in many EHS departments, from being seen as necessary but not a central part of the business, to becoming a critical part of the business organizational success. Conducting a deep analysis and restructuring of existing systems and moving toward an outward focus on the overall business goals of the organization will help EHS teams to proactively identify priorities and provide elastic responses to the next unexpected event.
To learn more about how we can help you analyze your data to prioritize and align your EHS programs with overall business strategy, visit our EHS+ page. For more information about our easily implemented and customizable EHS-DashboardTM, the EHS software solution built by EHS engineers, visit our EHS-DashboardTM page.