Key performance indicators are the modern method for tracking everything, including safety. But for KPIs to serve the professionals who configure them, they must have a few crucial qualities. Most importantly, these metrics must be leading indicators.
What is a leading KPI?
In essence, leading indicators give users visibility into information that can preempt a negative incident from occurring. Leading indicators are often paired with lagging indicators, which merely report on incidents that have already occurred.
Lagging KPIs tell you how many workplace accidents your business had last year, but leading KPIs notify you of possible activity that could increase the risk of accidents, thus allowing you to address the matter proactively.
Just because a leading indicator is a leading indicator doesn't mean it's relevant to the interests of everybody. Businesses must pick the metrics that make sense for them and how they operate. However, a few characteristics are universal in all strong KPIs safety managers will want to use:
1. They serve a valuable strategy
Objective-based leading indicators report on data directly tied to facility improvement. Whereas lagging indicators are more exploratory, articulating unknown information on certain occurrences, a good leading indicator links to broader, top-down strategic planning. Every one should help businesses reach the higher standards they aim for.
Better safety standards through stronger attendance at training, for instance, would justify a leading indicator measuring the employee completion rate for training modules.
2. They fuel business decisions
KPIs are, in a way, like any other type of meter or gauge. They have highs, lows and balances. Leading indicators work in the same way, except that they also provide clear context.
Contextuality requires three major components: precise data, desired ranges and prescribed recovery actions. Users must be able to trust what their KPIs say, know at a glance whether they must take action and understand exactly what actions they must perform to rectify any given situation.
3. They encourage advocacy among all users
Appreciation across the workplace is crucial to establishing long-lasting leading indicators. Often, businesses will unintentionally collect more information through KPIs than they really need, which dilutes the value of having any KPIs and increases the risk of overresourcing. As a result, technicians or operators using or affected by these measurements lose interest, which can detract from their value as predictive tools.
Especially when it comes to safety, EHS professionals must demonstrate the value of leading indicators to workers. It is not enough to say a KPI will improve safety. Managers and supervisors must show it too and work with staff to integrate KPIs into operations with an eye toward efficient utilization. If either can't be done, then the KPI in question isn't worth keeping.
Custom KPI dashboards built into IndustrySafe safety management software give businesses the transparency they need to prevent injuries, uphold best practices and comply with federal safety regulations. Request a free demo today.