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Helping Auckland Transport’s Safety Enablement team reinvent their relationship with their frontline team

A day in the life

Auckland Transport (AT) receives over 30 reports from their frontline workers every month of verbal threats and abuse, aggressive behaviour, and even violence. Parking officers, transport officers and customer service representatives have become accustomed to members of the public swearing, spitting, and in some cases, assaulting them while they try to do their jobs.

What could be done better to help keep them safe while at work?

AT’s Safety Enablement team, comprising safety specialists and advisers, identified the best way to achieve greater safety for team members was twofold: to get closer to and better understand the roles of their people at the frontline of customer and community interactions, and secondly, to then use these insights to better support and advise on appropriate safety measures.

Deloitte then began working with the Safety Enablement team to help build better relationships with their frontline workers and get a deeper understanding of the health and safety risks their employees are exposed to.

“In order to appreciate the reality of what our frontline people were dealing with, we needed to involve ourselves in their day-to-day work,” says Jo Zoricich, Head of Safety Enablement at AT. “We can’t reduce the risks they're confronted by if we don't fully understand what they do every day.”

“In order to appreciate the reality of what our frontline people were dealing with, we needed to involve ourselves in their day-to-day work.”

Deloitte partner and project engagement lead, Monika Wakeman, worked with Jo to establish ‘a day in the life,’ a solution to better identify and assess the risks.

As part of the project, members of the Safety Enablement team were assigned to different business units and then spent a day on the job with the AT frontline team members, performing a variety of frontline roles. The project allowed the Safety Enablement team to get to know their frontliners as individuals and to both see and hear first-hand what the health and safety risks looked like in real life.

“Essentially, we managed to uncover the reality of the situation by being out there in person and working alongside our frontline people,” says Jo.

The feedback from both the Safety Enablement team and AT’s operational units was better than expected. The Safety Enablement team gained a richer understanding of the challenges faced by frontliners, and as a result, a deeper connection and relationship between the operational units formed. They also received a more accurate, up to date view on the key risks in the organisation and an opportunity to demonstrate the value of what they do. Frontline workers felt appreciated for the work they do in the environments they do it in because of the project engagement – and from a safety perspective were able to share and speak up in ways they hadn’t before. 

“The real value was in connecting people and building relationships,” says Monika. “This project speaks to the values of the organisation and has the ability to impact on nemployee well-being, job satisfaction and ultimately nemployee retention, provided AT maintains those relationships.”

AT is currently collating the findings from the study to update their risks and controls in the different business units. The next step is to validate the report with the business units to get more feedback and refine the process.

“We need to protect our people; this gives us the data and insights to do that,” says Jo. “It will inform future strategy and controls as well. Previously, people only came to talk to the safety enablement team when things went wrong. We’re looking forward to talking to them about what’s going right as a result of the changes made in how we manage health and safety risks.”

Thanks to the proactivity of AT’s Safety Enablement team, the lights have changed on their response to the risks frontline workers are exposed to. 

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