Jan. 27, 2016

Companies – including those in business aviation – can improve their safety culture by treating employees as partners, rather than subordinates, and giving them a seat at the table in the decisions that affect them, according to Dr. John Izzo, an expert in corporate leadership and employee engagement.

group of white men in discussion next to fuselage

In many industries, workers today are looking for more meaning in their jobs, so the more traditional top-down, hierarchical form of decision-making is less likely to motivate these employees to achieve success, Izzo said in a recent article in British magazine Safety & Health Practitioner. Issuing commands tends to foster a victim mentality and low morale, he said.

Creating a safer environment also requires that individual employees “step up,” by taking responsibility for their work and not making excuses, said Izzo. People who do this can create a “ripple of responsibility” with others, and they do not need to have a formal leadership title to lead in this way.

Izzo offers Qantas Airways as an example of a company reaping the benefits of employee engagement. The airline has an outstanding safety record because every person in the organization talks about it and takes deep pride in it.

“It turns out that when people see a deep purpose in their own work, they call in sick less often, they are more productive, they are more committed and they work longer hours voluntarily,” said Izzo. “In other words, there is a real connection between this sense of purpose and the real business outcomes that we are interested in.”

Izzo is a leader in his field, having provided management advice to hundreds of organizations, including Fortune 500 firms. He holds a doctorate in organizational communication from Kent State University, conducts research on workplace values and has authored six books.

Izzo will discuss how to create highly engaging, positive workplaces when he speaks at NBAA’s Leadership Conference, Feb. 22 to 24 [2016] in San Antonio, TX.