Digitalization, Occupational Safety

How to overcome the most common EHS challenges

Achieving success in EHS: Tackling the 6 top hurdles

4 minutes01/08/2023

EHS professionals have a demanding job: They must ensure safe and healthy workplaces, foster collaboration, and protect the environment. To do their jobs effectively, EHS managers face a variety of challenges every day. Their role is becoming increasingly important as risks increase and the pressure on companies to improve safety performance grows. 

Based on extensive experience working closely with EHS professionals, numerous discussions have been conducted concerning the challenges that nearly all of them face at some point.

In this article, you will find the six most commonly cited challenges. You will learn some effective strategies for overcoming these challenges. Regardless of your experience with these challenges, it makes sense to apply effective solutions in a dynamic business environment. 

The three aspects of every challenge: 

  1. How customers describe the experience. 
  2. A solution approach. 
  3. Specific steps for success.

Challenge #1: Determining where to act first.

With so many potential EHS projects, it can be difficult for organizations to determine where to invest first to achieve the greatest return.

How our customers describe the experience
"There’s so much I could do, but which project will get us the most from our investment?" 
"I don’t know which solutions will solve our problems.

A solution approach
Conduct a solution mapping exercise to target opportunities and establish priorities.

Specific steps for success
This whiteboard exercise will help you think through work priorities.

1: List out the EHS work to be done
Consider the full range of needs, including equipment, training, and technology.

2: Assign a score to each project
Rank each one according to two dimensions:

  • Importance - 0 is not critical to the business, 10 is an essential business process
  • Satisfaction - 0 is something that needs to be done, 10 no immediate changes are needed

3: Identify opportunities
Plot the importance and satisfaction scores on this chart. Focus your efforts in the upper left quadrant.

Download whiteboard exercise as PDF:

Challenge #2: Making the case for investing in health and safety is difficult.

One of the top challenges EHS professionals face is significant resistance to budget approvals. Despite a compelling ROI, stakeholders often fail to see how proposed initiatives align with business goals or doubt the financial benefits.

How our customers describe the experience
"The return on investment (ROI) is substantial, but stakeholders struggle to see its alignment with company objectives." 
"Stakeholders don’t trust the numbers, and don’t see the financial benefits.

A solution approach
Ensure that your ROI is comprehensive, multi-dimensional, customized, and communicated in a way that’s relevant to each stakeholder.

Specific steps for success

Challenge #3: EHS investments are reactive, not proactive.

Navigating budget challenges is a common hurdle for EHS professionals. Discussions with C-level and other decision-makers are often frustrating. Overcoming this obstacle requires a proactive and strategic approach.

How our customers describe the experience
"When I ask for funding, it’s never in the budget." 
"When a problem arises, suddenly there's a budget for it." 

A solution approach
Proactively present a comprehensive business case that includes specific outcomes for both the business and your customers. But that’s easier said than done. Not every EHS manager has the specific knowledge and skills. For further support and understanding of every aspect of the EHS investment case, read the following article by Mouttou Natanasigamani: “EHS & sustainability investment case” 

Specific steps for success

  • Select the most important EHS investment on your list and identify outcomes in three areas: safety, process, and customer.
  • Understand how the budgeting process works, who makes decisions, and what criteria they use.
  • Align your request with the decision-makers’ business objectives, such as improving efficiency, minimizing compliance risk, or enhancing sustainability practices.
  • Quantify potential financial savings, such as reduced labor, or optimized resources. Use hard data and industry benchmarks to support your numbers.
  • Address any objections or concerns directly.

Challenge #4: Lack of strong executive relationships

EHS professionals often struggle to build strong executive relationships, resulting in limited influence in decision making.

How our customers describe the experience
"My ideas don't seem to be a priority for the executive suite, and I have a hard time convincing them to listen to me." 

A solution approach
Boost your internal networking activities. Make time to network early and often.

Specific steps for success

  • Build strong internal relationships in advance; set goals and schedule time with potential stakeholders at least quarterly.
  • Learn what executives care about and how your efforts can help them.
  • Before each communication, reflect on your experience in addressing challenges 1 and 2.

Challenge #5: Lack of time to implement new solutions such as EHS software.

Managing EHS software under time constraints is considered a common problem, especially for small teams with limited resources.

How our customers describe the experience
"We are a very small team and had concerns about implementing software. Usability is a priority for us. Processes should be streamlined effectively."
"Despite budget constraints and the desire to be able to make changes independently, we're also very interested in finding resource-efficient ways to implement them successfully."

A solution approach
If you’re reading this, you’re already thinking holistically and educating yourself to understand the challenges. That may be all it takes to find a solution.

Specific steps for success

  • Understand that your existing tech stack may not be able to solve today’s problems. That’s the nature of an evolving business environment.
  • When evaluating potential new solutions, consider the ability to adapt. Can you make changes? Or would you need to pay the provider or a consultant?
  • Discover how Quentic, an intuitive and easy-to-learn platform, strikes the perfect balance between self-sufficiency and expert support. Maximize your time and resources with Quentic's comprehensive EHS solution. Contact us and request a demo

Challenge #6: Employees don’t adopt new processes or tools.

Encouraging employees to embrace new processes or tools can be a significant hurdle, leaving organizations with the frustrating reality that implemented solutions remain unused.

How our customers describe the experience
"I successfully selected and implemented a tool, but my fear is that no one will use it"

A solution approach
Engage stakeholders early and give them a voice during in decision making and implementation.

Specific steps for success

  • Involve all decision makers before a purchase decision is made. Ask for and listen to feedback and concerns.
  • Get people at all other levels on board early and explain how the change will help them and their organization.
  • Before implementation, communicate the benefits of the new process or tool, and emphasize its ease of use.
  • After implementation, check in frequently to solicit feedback and offer help. Be there for the entire team, every step of the way.