The Teys family has been involved in the Australian beef industry since 1946, when four Teys brothers formed a partnership that was involved in wholesaling and retailing meat in South East Queensland. From these humble beginnings, the family has grown its business to become the second largest meat processor and exporter in Australia. Teys family members remain closely involved with the day-to-day operations of the company and strong family values underpin a reputation that is second to none.
Why did the program/initiative need to be implemented?
The program was developed as part of my PhD studies and my work responsibilities (at the time) at Workplace Health & Safety Qld. When the program was first being developed, we were searching for suitable industry partners who could work with us to develop, trial and finalise the toolkit. Teys jumped out at us as being a suitable partner because Julia Teys and her team presented as passionate and genuine people. They were also very supportive of the research-based approach that we required. The reason we developed the LEAD program was to provide industry with opportunities to build capability and positive capacity. Too often, safety is filled with initiatives that aim to prevent negative outcomes and events, when the real opportunity to improve lies with building positive capacities, like safety leadership.
What was the program/initiative that Teys Australia implemented?
The LEAD program is an evidence-based toolkit that centres on safety leadership skill development. The program developed for Teys covers five key modules: my safety leadership (developing a common foundation for safety), leverage (providing clarity and fairness), energise (driving change and commitment), adapt (learning and improvement), and defend (protecting against threats). The program is delivered over several weeks, allowing time in-between for application of learned concepts and tools. Teys also implemented a number of extra supporting initiatives like performance management tools, recognition programs, and safety system enhancements.
How was the program/initiative developed and implemented and what was the timeframe involved?
Teys partnered with the University of Queensland and the Office of Industrial Relations for this program. We initially worked closely with a cohort of workers drawn from diverse areas of the business to pilot test and evaluate an early version of the program. This step was vital in ensuring the messages were pitched correctly and integrated workers’ experiences. We then implemented a train-the-trainer model whereby Teys’ staff were upskilled to deliver the program. These people were handpicked based on their passion and commitment to safety. They were also ‘champions’ who supported the implementation outside the program. The roll-out took approximately 12 months to achieve given the size and scope of the Teys workforce.
What barriers/problems were encountered during implementation of the solution/change?
One challenge we encountered was the diversity of the Teys workforce and their differing levels of prior education and exposure to formal learning environments. To cope with these challenges, we developed a simplified and tailored version of the program that could be delivered to a broad range of personnel. Again, close consultation with the workforce proved vital to get these changes right. Relevant examples and additional program content were included in this program version to ensure the audience was engaged and the program delivered on its training objectives.
What was the effect of the program/initiative?
The program was successful at transferring learned concepts and tools to the target leadership audience. We measured this through post-program feedback forms and a six month follow-up survey where we asked participants to report back what they had used since the training and why. We also surveyed the workers of participating leaders, and found that the benefits included observable changes in leaders’ safety behaviours. Teys’ safety climate scores were benchmarked against 600 organisations and we found them to be significantly above the industry average.
Do you have any tips for someone looking to enter Category 6 of the Awards?
Ensure that you have thoroughly evaluated your initiative and can show compelling evidence that it has had a positive effect on safety performance. This evidence shouldn’t concentrate on injuries and other lagging indicators, because these metrics are subject to chance fluctuations and manipulation. Evidence of positive safety capacity, such as improved workforce safety attitudes, behaviours, and other leading indicators that are qualitative in nature, such as the quality of team Toolbox Talks and staff competency should be emphasised.