Craig Cotton: Personalising health & safety strengthened people-first culture

14 June 2016

Personalising health and safety was one way an FMCG leader was able to strengthen the strong people-first culture in two companies he was responsible for.

Craig Cotton, former Country Manager of Independent Liquor and former Chief Executive of the Better Drinks Company, says in an FGC Leaders Series video that the culture around the businesses was to put people first.

“To really reinforce how important the culture around our business was … I used health and safety as a bit of a catalyst to really step-change people’s thinking on the importance of putting people first. And that wasn’t only from the perspective of making sure you looked after your mates but actually looking after yourself because you’ve got a family at home.

“So really trying to personalise it, so that ultimately it’s about ensuring that every single day I’m committed to ensuring our people can go home in a manner which they can play and have fun with their families.

“And it’s really just grown from there. We sat down and thought how could we start to really step-change engagement. And it was around more the emotional connection. So that really started with getting [family] images. And that’s really transcended through the organisation.”

He says they had four key risk areas – forklifts, manual handling, drive safe home safe, and machinery – and they used imagery to help reinforce the risks involved.

As a member of the CEO Leadership Forum on Health and Safety he could see that the FMCG industry could do more.

“There’s lots happening, but it’s not happening collectively as other industries do.

“I think the greatest way that we can really ensure that we can embed the culture of health and safety within our organisations is that it does have to come from the top.

“It has to be led from the CEO or at MD level but it’s about how do we start to really collaborate and work closely with other FMCG companies to learn and share, because I’m sure we’re all doing some really great stuff, but I think we could be doing a hell of a lot better.”

See Craig Cotton on FGC’s YouTube channel here