After researching the industry and speaking to like minded professionals, our resident EHS specialist presents a summary of why some businesses are still reluctant to invest in EHS software
3 years ago I took a risk in my EHS career; I moved from a ‘boots on the ground’ Senior EHS Manager, to working as an EHS software specialist at HandsHQ. It was a bold move as I didn’t understand terms such as SaaS, UX and Tech Stacks.
However, it turned out to be the best decision of my career. I learnt there was more support required in the world of tech than just programming a product. My skill set expanded from traditional EHS knowledge, to learning about the importance of user experience (UX), marketing skills, and the buyer’s journey through a positive sales process.
I mention my journey because prior, I was afraid to invest in EHS technology myself. During my previous 10 years within the built environment, I was tasked as project lead for EHS software implementation. I did feel threatened whether the software could replace my job. 13 years later, the same sentiment has risen with ChatGPT being released to the public.
Many businesses and EHS consultants I speak to now share the same sentiment as I did. Here are 4 factors I have seen that drive fear and some suggestions on how to overcome them.
Fear of change
Humans do not like change (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it kind of ethic). People feel they haven’t got time to learn a new process or don’t immediately see value in acting on change. People are only concerned with how the change affects them, not necessarily looking at the bigger impact across a business. Understandably, product implementation is a major change and you want to make sure the change positively affects the business and the workforce.
To overcome this, ensure an effective change management programme is in place. Senior management must buy in even before purchase so they can lead change. C-suite and other promoters of the product are invaluable to help overcome rebuttals across the business. If they have seen the value and understand how a step implementation plan will look, they are far more likely to support the change.
Fear of rejection
With any software purchase, there is apprehension on whether it be adopted by the workforce; no one is in business to waste money. As modern EHS professionals, we are assessing what tools are available in the market to help the workforce manage their safety responsibilities better. So we must be confident that the chosen EHS software will be engaged with.
To help make software stick within the business, check that what you are buying will actually remove a significant pain point across your operations. Speak to all levels of staff so you understand what really grates on them and solve it easily through user friendly software. Look to complete an audit on your company technology infrastructure as well to understand how the workforce will best be able to access and utilise the software.
Fear of imperfection
A main objective for EHS professionals is checking that safe systems of work are suitable and sufficient so that they may stand up in court. Many prospects I speak to are hesitant to start a software project until all the content is perfect. But why waste time, effort and possible duplication when you can make improvements ‘on the go’ as you are onboarding software into the business.
To remove the fear of litigation from inadequate safe systems of work, accept that RAMS are a continuous improvement process. Change content and improve workflows alongside software implementation. You are going to learn from mistakes made and be able to share lessons learnt with others to benefit from. Furthermore, taking the Pareto principle, that previous 80% of our time spent perfecting RAMS could be used for other equally valuable, proactive activities such as audits, inspections and training to further help the workforce and stay compliant.
Fear of replacement
A sentiment shared amongst EHS professions was doing the job so well that businesses could deliver on their own, no longer requiring support. I think this fear really drives why EHS professionals (consultants in particular) are reluctant to embrace software because they may lose their own revenue.
The solution from this fear is changing your mindset to look at technology as career enhancing, rather than career limiting. If software can free up resources, you can use that time to deliver other services that interest you more, build better returns, or generate more income. Software is a facilitative tool not a direct replacement; there isn’t software on the market that can truly replicate all the skills, experience and knowledge that an EHS professional has.
When taking a step back, the fears listed here feel irrational and can certainly be overcome by experienced EHS professionals. However, there is a fear which is rational; the fear of being left behind in a rapidly changing world.
Leaders and forward thinkers within the built environment are already 5 years ahead of the competition; seeing value and demonstrable returns using finance, project management and CRM software.
If safety is seen as one of the most important factors in business (coupled with a common business value of ‘innovation’), then why should EHS professionals not endorse safety software? As the ‘Discovering Safety’ movement is well underway within the UK, it makes sense to embrace all technology and data available to our profession rather than reject it.