The commitment of top management is a critical factor in driving positive change in workplace health and safety, and Danish Crown exemplifies this principle in action. Jesper Frandsen, Vice President in Danish Crown’s Pork Division, underscores the importance of leadership commitment as the catalyst for meaningful change. His statement, “It has to come from the person at the head of the table – otherwise it probably won’t happen,” encapsulates the essence of Vision Zero Golden Rule no. 1.
With over 22 years of experience at Danish Crown, Jesper Frandsen’s words carry weight, emphasising that leaders must genuinely understand and embrace the specific reasons behind prioritising health and safety.
Last Autumn, I had the privilege of facilitating stages of Danish Crown’s strategic process. This involved bringing together factory managers from DC Foods, a division of Danish Crown, operating across Denmark, Germany, and Holland. The primary objective of the project was to cultivate a proactive working environment, and we initiated the process by anchoring top management’s commitment as the foundation.
Top management involvement is key
The involvement of top management was pivotal to the project’s success. These factory managers, responsible for up to 1,000 employees each, dedicated an entire day to contemplate and discuss the critical importance of prioritising occupational safety and health. To aid their understanding, we employed the ‘Why-What-How’ model, which we often use in leadership workshops. Our goal was to stimulate intrinsic motivation for prioritising health and safety work, enabling each leader to identify personal reasons that aligned with their goals and the overall success of their factories.
Our aim was to move beyond the mere repetition of “safety first.” Instead, we wanted to instil a sense of personal ownership in the project and emphasising their own crucial role in promoting a proactive work environment.
The initial part of the process focused on discussions and reflections regarding why OSH mattered to each participant. We provided a framework that highlighted the financial benefits of investing in health and safety, with a 2.2:1 return on investment, and the advantages of attracting new employees through online workplace assessments. However, the core of this phase was enabling each top leader to identify the motivations that resonated most with them—an exercise rooted in intrinsic motivation.
Top leadership involvement is key
On the second day of the workshop, we delved into the concrete steps top leaders should take to contribute to a proactive working environment. To progress to a higher level of prevention, leaders must change their behaviour and take responsibility. Instead of passing the buck to others, such as OSH professionals or team leaders, we encouraged top leaders to identify specific changes they could personally make.
For instance, a leader might recognise the impact of spending more time visibly engaged with workers in production—being an integral part of daily work, holding meaningful conversations with staff, and experiencing daily routines firsthand. However, this might entail delegating administrative tasks to free up time for meaningful engagement.
This leads us to the phase where leaders formulate personal action plans based on their reflections. These plans comprise tangible actions that leaders commit to taking, such as increased visibility and employee engagement. Emphasis is placed on finding solutions to enable these actions, even when time constraints exist.
Bottom-line figures speak for themselves
The workshop’s effectiveness was further bolstered by bringing in one of Danish Crown’s own, Jesper Frandsen, who shared his experiences from his division and emphasized the bottom-line impact of proactive OSH efforts. According to him, the positive effects can be quantified in terms of reduced equipment costs, decreased absence rates, and lower staff turnover, to just name a few.
Danish Crown’s commitment to health and safety, driven by top management involvement, serves as an inspiring model for organisations worldwide. Their journey demonstrates that when leaders truly embrace the importance of OSH, meaningful change is not only achievable but also measurable in terms of both workplace wellbeing and financial outcomes. Danish Crown’s dedication to safety is an inspiring example of the transformative power of management commitment in creating a safer and healthier working environment for all.
ABOUT DANISH CROWN
- Danish Crown is one of the largest exporters of and one of Europe’s largest producers of pork.
- The Danish Crown Group is the largest meat-processing company in Europe.
- Danish Crown has production in Denmark, in the UK, and in several European countries and China.
- Danish Crown has market access to more than 130 countries around the world.
- Danish Crown is an active member of the Danish Vision Zero Council.