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Why Your Team Needs Safety Leadership Training in 2021

Dec 15, 2020
Safety professional woman wearing a face covering talks with masked male colleague about leadership training outdoors

The new year will come with significant pressures on workers, employers and the economy.

That’s according to the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Future of Jobs Report that provides expert insights into what it calls our “defining moment.” On the one hand, it says we have the tools and knowledge to orient workers toward the jobs of tomorrow — jobs that use technology to achieve financial prosperity while taking care of the planet. On the other hand, support for “displaced” workers who need to learn new trades or techniques is lagging behind the fast pace of economic disruption. The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t helped.

What do these high-level economic predictions have to do with safety professionals? First, safety professionals will be critical to the success of front-line workers who find themselves in new roles. Safety leadership not only helps create environments where on-the-job learners can thrive, it keeps organizations committed to safety and health as a long-term value. Second, safety professionals will need to stay competitive to succeed in an unpredictable job market. That means proactively seeking opportunities for training and connecting with peers who face similar challenges.

Safety professionals have adapted to remote work, budget cuts, COVID-19 protocols and more in 2020. And while economists say there is hope for the future, we all should be prepared to continue learning and staying flexible in 2021. Here are the top 10 skills the World Economic Forum says workers will need by 2025 — and how safety leadership training can help your team prepare.

1. Analytical Thinking and Innovation

Half of all workers will need reskilling in the next few years to adapt to technology, and analytical thinking and innovation top the list. Safety leaders won’t learn these skills in a training slide deck, but you can connect, encourage and share with each other in an effort to spark new ideas and evaluate what’s not working.

2. Active Learning and Learning Strategies

Active learning is new to the list this year, and it’s no wonder. Finding solutions to emerging challenges was a necessity in 2020. Take time in the new year to read about consensus standards and best practices that can help you protect workers. Then, seek out train-the-trainer opportunities where you can delve into the latest learning strategies.

3. Complex Problem-Solving

The World Economic Forum has recognized complex problem-solving as an important skill since it started publishing reports in 2016. Most safety professionals already know about anticipating and addressing complex risks, but do you know how to explain your thinking and work with others? Use 2021 to hone your communication and collaboration skills. Problem-solving is easier when you involve your whole team.

4. Critical Thinking and Analysis

Similar to complex problem-solving, critical thinking and analysis have been on the list consistently since 2016. According to the report, organizations expect workers to seek internal and external expertise as they strive to advance. Whether you’re reading articles, putting together a safety presentation or attending a staff meeting in the new year, take time to ask questions, evaluate biases and consider sources.

5. Creativity, Originality and Initiative

By 2025, the report estimates that 85 million jobs may be displaced as the division of labor between people and machines continues to shift. Knowing that, you will be expected to bring what are perhaps your most human talents to the forefront: creativity, originality and initiative. Silence your inner critic as you pursue training opportunities in 2021 and prioritize exploration.

6. Leadership and Social Influence

In 2020, online learners pursued more education opportunities related to personal development and self-management skills. With workers separated by physical distance and facing other communication barriers related to COVID-19, social influence has taken on new meaning. Even if you’re highly adept at working with people under pre-pandemic conditions, explore training opportunities that will help you inspire teams in 2021 and beyond.

7. Technology Use, Monitoring and Control

By 2025, the report says approximately 97 million jobs may emerge that “are more adapted to” the ways humans work with machines and algorithms. In our current environment, many safety professionals think of wearable technology, safety management software, drones and other innovations as the way of the future. But if you recognize their importance in the present and learn to use them effectively, you will be better able to protect workers.

8. Technology Design and Programming

The World Economic Forum found a difference in the skills people seeking employment pursued relative to those with jobs: During a job search, people were more likely to upskill in ways that emphasized technical abilities, such as programming. While you may not need to become a tech expert to be an effective safety leader, a working knowledge of the basics will help you collaborate with and protect an evolving workforce.

9. Resilience, Stress Tolerance and Flexibility

Resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility were new to the 2020 list. These competencies gained more prominence this year as virtually every industry scrambled to adjust to pandemic life. However, they’ve always been important to leadership and the safety profession. Intentionally approach your work with mindfulness in the new year so you can tend to your own needs and communicate them to your team. 

10. Reasoning, Problem-Solving and Ideation

Abilities that influence the way information is applied to decision-making will be in high demand between now and 2025. It’s one thing to compile reports and comply with regulations. It’s another to provide clear and persuasive analysis of what supports safety and health at your organization and what needs to change. Seek safety leadership training that helps you approach problem-solving holistically in 2021.

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