2013 Responsibility Leader®: Creative Thinking and a Passion for Safety
Mark Meek is a firm believer in communicating his safety message face-to-face whenever possible. That goal was within reach when he was the safety manager for BJs Wholesale Club, with 150 locations. He continued his mission at Belk department stores, visiting locations and meeting as many employees as his schedule would allow.
But when Meek took on the top safety role at Advance Auto Parts in 2010, he was suddenly faced with a seemingly impossible task: How do you maintain direct contact with more than 58,000 employees spread across 4,000 locations? Meek realized he was going to need a whole new strategy.
I could travel every single day and I'm still not going to get to 10 percent of the company," said Meek. But senior management didn't want to add training tasks to the already heavy workload of store managers and regional managers. And Meek wanted solid assurance that his message was reaching every single person.
Fortunately for AAP, Meek is an outside-the-box kind of thinker. He looked at the bigger picture and realized his job wasn't just about safety anymore, it was also about mass communication.
Mark was able to sit back and think, 'OK, how do other people communicate messages?' " said
Gary Nesbit, director of risk management for AAP. Ultimately, Meek likened the task of broadcasting his safety message to a marketer's task of broadcasting an advertising message. That led the team to approach safety training modules in a highly nontraditional way, more like TV ads or public service announcements.
The idea was to make it like a commercial," said Meek, noting that each segment is less than three minutes. "The team member can watch it without getting bored, but we still get the message home."
The result was no less than a breakthrough. The video series, starring animated character Stick Stickler, is wildly popular as well as effective. Nesbit said each video segment is followed by a noticeable drop in claims related to the topic covered. Team member retention is at enviable levels.
We can do safety bulletins and newsletters, but I can't tell you whether all 58,000 people saw it or not," said Nesbit. "Whereas with Stick, we're hitting 98 or 99 percent of team members every month. We're touching every single team member."
Nesbit, a 2012 Responsibility Leader®,said that he's incredibly proud of Meek's efforts, not just in the role he played in creating the video series, but in his clever approach to delivering the message without draining the department's time or resources.
AAP team members are all required to view product and promotional materials on a monthly basis to stay up-to-date with the company's offerings. Meek saw an opportunity to partner with operations and piggyback the Stick Stickler videos onto the training messages already being delivered.
Since that meant adding just two or three minutes to the existing training, the safety department didn't have to budget for training time for the entire staff.
That mechanism was already built in," said Nesbit. "If we had rolled out a more traditional 15-minute training video for all 58,000 team members, there was going to be a labor issue -- who was going to pay for the time that it took team members off the store floor? By tying it in with the product training and keeping the messages short, that eliminated the problem."
But that's not all Meek was able to leverage by bundling the training. The existing program was already being tracked and monitored, with reports being sent to district managers every month. So the safety department didn't have to reinvent the wheel and come up with its own tracking program.
I'm really proud of Mark's creativity -- to not only come up with the concept, but also to be able to get it delivered, monitored and followed up on," said Nesbit. "To me, that speaks a lot to his creativity but also his passion for keeping team members safe."
September 15, 2013
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