James: Hi everyone! Welcome to today's webinar, “The State of the EHS Industry. My name is James and I'll be your moderator for today's event.
So before we dive into the presentation in the overall session, I'd like to give you a brief overview on what the webinar is going to entail. We’ll walk through some housekeeping items here.
Our session today looks at the year ahead from the perspective of your peers. As our speaker will discuss, you'll get an early look at the results of a recent survey we conducted to find out what the greatest trends, challenges, and priorities are for EHS professionals in 2016.
On the presentation, there will be an open Q&A period. You can ask questions anytime throughout the webinar by typing them into the questions pane on the right hand side of your screen and it is encouraged. We’re going to save enough time at the end to address any questions you have.
Please note that everyone’s microphones will be turned off for the entirety of the webinar. But if you do have a question or a technical issue comes up, once again you can use that questions pane to communicate.
Finally, please keep in mind you will receive a copy of the slide deck and the recording out within the next couple of days so keep an eye out for these materials.
As the head of marketing at Triumvirate Environmental, Warren Sukernek is responsible for the creation and implementation of all marketing, branding communications, events, digital and inbound lead generation.
Warren is a seasoned marketing executive with a pattern of success in large businesses and startup companies. During his tenure at Triumvirate, we’ve grown the website capability, implemented the webinar series and have launched many new programs. And so with that, I'll turn things over to Warren. Hey, Warren!
Warren: Thanks James. Good afternoon everyone. Thanks for attending this important webinar on the state of EHS in industry.
Since looking at registration list, I think we have a lot of people who may not be that familiar with Triumvirate Environmental. I wanted to just spend a couple minutes talking about the company.
So like most of you, our focus is on the EHS management and services. We provide many different services in EHS using almost 500 employees with offices from Maine to Florida.
Those services range from hazardous or medical waste disposal, to field services, emergency response is an example, as well as professional services and consulting.
The bulk of our work is really focused on four vertical markets – life sciences, education, environmental colleges and universities, healthcare and industrial – lot of big manufacturers.
The company was founded in 1988 and we have a strong background throughout the industry of innovation and thought leadership.
As an example of innovation, this is our 40th webinar over the past 12 months, which I think you'll agree is pretty impressive amount in this industry where you strongly believe in thought leadership and helping to educate and inform the industry regulations, best practices, and other trends and that's why we're all here today.
As far as an agenda of what I’m going to go through, we’re going to talk about on the survey methodology, demographics to start. Then, we’ll go into staffing budget, answering some of the questions; priorities and trends that you provided for 2016. We ask a few questions on technology and EHS and summarized, kind of load everything up and then open the door for questions and answers.
Let’s talk about the research or the survey that we did. What was our objective in doing this?
So this is our first survey of what we expect to be an annual project to help provide all of you, EHS professional, with the knowledge and inside about upcoming trends and events that are impacting the industry.
As a side note, in our research prior to performing the research, we found that there really hasn't been much in the way of surveying the industry. So we wanted to really get a sense and listen to what environmental health and safety professionals have to say.
Some of the goals that we had for those surveys and the report, we were to take a snapshot of the current EHS professionals and the organizations that they represent, which will be the next slide when I talk to you about some those demographics.
Identify trends and regulations and changes that impact your operations. And then, the goal being to allow professionals and the company that you work for to benchmark those priorities and budgets against similar firms in the field.
Terms of survey design, we asked respondents 22 questions and they range from multiple choice, to true/false, to scoring questions from like a 1 to 5 scales, as well as freeform answers. So we asked almost 200 people at the last two weeks of December.
Those individuals came from our own database so a lot of Triumvirate clients as well as, you know people who are prospects will have a relationship with us. And in addition to that, a good chunk came in who we didn't know, who are from beyond our region, who were solicited through posts that we placed on social media which I think will be interesting. We have a section on social media.
So let's get into it in a little more detail. Who took the survey?
So as you can see in the first chart here on the left, the primary group – it was pretty broad and strong distribution, but the primary group that answered the survey, 38% were managers. When you add associates to that, 72% of our respondents, a little more than two thirds were associate or managers.
However, we also have a nice chunk of directors, 25%. And then senior leader, C levels answered as well. That’s pretty interesting. I think I had a really broad distribution.
In terms of what industry, we have some nice coverage across the foreign industries. I mentioned that triumvirate focus on the services. The largest being industrial group, and then second to that was higher education. And in terms how large companies were that were represented, you see it’s pretty broad too – some from very small respondents to very large 21% over 5,000 employees.
So if you are too kind of net it up, the typical respondent is a manager in the EHS department at a midsize industrial company that has between 100 and 500 employees.
Over the course of this report, you'll see we noted where there were differences in responses based either the industry that the survey came from or the experience level of the respondent.
And also, we asked them about departmental size. And most of the EHS professionals who took a survey have a department of five or less. Clearly, this category of the large companies have a much larger sample size, department over 30.
Okay, let’s get a little deeper. I think right here, James is going to ask you a poll question.
James: And I just launched that poll. So we’ll give everyone a few seconds. This should be a pretty easy one.
Warren: Was environmental health and safety your original career choice?
James: Okay, looks like everyone pretty much responded. So 75% said ‘no’, 25% ‘yes’. Let see how compares that to the survey results.
Warren: Interesting. I think we’re in line in that we found that 56% respondents started with a different career choice. 38% get focused on EHS from the very beginning. And I think we have small percentage, 6% were unsure whether they started in EHS or not. That’s my poor attempt as a joke so, apologize for that.
The other thing too is we looked at and what department do they work in? This was somewhat surprising in that only 50% of the EHS professionals worked in the EHS department.
The other half, work either in facilities or other departments that included operations, manufacturing, quality, lab management and safety so that's interesting.
One inference that you see on the bottom is if you recall, we had a large percentage of respondents who were directors above. I think it was about 29% - 27%, there we go. So even though it may not have been an original career choice, our inference is it's been a rewarding career because they've been able to grow and develop to become directors or even more senior managers or leaders in the field.
Now a little more meat and dive deeper on how you feel about staffing and budgets. So we asked quite a few questions on staffing.
And this first question was an evaluation of how you feel about how staffed you are. The surprising thing was over two-thirds of the responses came back that said their department is currently under staffed. 72% between these two pockets right here. That’s quite a lot. No one really said they were overstaffed. If anything, 26% were appropriately staffed.
We also asked about budgets and growing up the departments in terms of head counts. And interestingly enough, 73% of the audience and that was pretty much everyone – we asked, “How do you expect the size of the department to change over the next year?” And 65% anticipated that the department size will remain the same. And as you can see with the same question about budgets, 73% said the budgets weren’t growing.
Correspondingly though, there is a good cross-section, 27% who are growing the budgets.
We also asked the question, “Over the course of the next year, how do you do see your spending with contractors changing?” And 90% of those respondents said they anticipate the budget assigned to contractors and hiring practices remain the time. So, no growth.
To break it down a little further in terms of the staffing evaluation, we looked at the four different industries that we cover and they were all pretty significant in terms of being over staffed.
Higher Ed, being the largest at 83%; Health care was 79% overstaffed; Industrial 68%; and life sciences said 58% say they were either very understaffed or slightly under staffed.
So everyone is really overworked based on looking at this and kind of a challenged to get things done.
And then as part of that here’s a quote to kind of illustrate that. Someone said, “Whatever you can do to connect with Engineering and Management disciplines to understand the benefits and importance of EHS and sustainability to the bottom line would go a long way toward making an EHS professional’s job, more a part of the organization’s goals and success rather than looked on as a cost sucking enterprise.”
It a kind of illustrate the frustration I think, with being overworked, understaffed and not getting the resources that they need.
As the result of that you might be thinking, “Geez, this isn’t very good.” So if the majority of Environmental Health Safety professionals feel their departments are understaffed and they aren’t expected to grow over the next year, how do you keep up to the workload? Which is why we asked a series of questions on using contractors.
We asked a bunch of questions and the most popular reason for hiring contractors from the audience were they’re more cost effective than full-time hires. Typically, I think because of that second reason, it’s easier to bring short term project based work for a limited duration and then leave. And then, the other responses were “specialized expertized, more efficient and simpler”.
And to that point, employees within the department recognize the need for more help in order to optimize for compliance, safety and other hot topics. Sometimes often contractors are used to correct this understaffing. We’ll talk about some of those areas where you’ve been using contractors and think it makes sense.
So what we found when we asked that question that there are three types of activities in the high level, that make sense to use consultants based on these surveys. One is regulatory training which requires constant focus on industry updates and agency directives. So, it certainly makes sense to outsource that and use some expert training organization to do just that because that’s their focus and they’re always on top of regulations, requirements, etcetera.
Another project for consultants in terms of these pockets that seem to really work was around complex, challenging, planning activities. And those planning activities could be anything from chemical hygiene, emergency response plan, maybe a GHS hazard plan, for example or SPCC plan.
And then the last is which really ties to the understaff feeling are cumbersome, time consuming and time sensitive reporting that has particular deadline that have to be done. A lot of you find that that’s a good way to get help from consultant and can be approved.
Example of those are licensing and permitting, bi-annual reporting and compliance audits. Clearly there’s a largest one where consultants are use are in training.
So, now let’s talking about priorities and trends for 2016. This slide, this was a question where we basically ask freeform, type in any answer, “What are your 2016 priorities and trends?”
As you can tell by this word cloud, it breaks it up into individual words. And the biggest words are the ones that were most popular. So, obviously EHS is the most popular terms so let’s discount that. But then, here’s another one – compliance, safety, regulations, regulatory, and you could see a bunch of popular priorities in trends. We’re going to get in a little more deeply. And the smaller words such as planning and bargaining not as important, so that’s how that kind of looks.
Now let’s look at the top 5 by role. There are some interesting points here. And we broke up to see differences between associates and managers and then the directors and C- level. And the top 5 for associates and manager were regulatory compliance, safety and safety culture, training, cost savings and waste management.
And then correspondingly for directors and C-level although the order was different, they are the same five things. Except for directors and C-level executive level employees, their priority was more around safety. They don’t probably have to do the reports, the regulatory compliance activity were number two rather than number one. Training was always number three, for example.
I think what this tells us is safety, regulatory compliance, and staffing honestly would be primary focuses in 2016.
And also we asked, “What are you challenged by? What keeps you up at night?” And it was the same exact topics in very similar order.
And one interesting things or surprise to us, we’re all environmental professionals, sustainability is important to us. But in terms of priorities and trends looking at to 2016, that was way down the list – number 7. Except for one industry where it was number two and that industry was life sciences. So, life sciences sustainability was a lot more important in focus. I think you can probably maybe appreciate why within that industry.
And I’ll just go back to the other chart so you can see relative to the other answers. Here’s sustainability over here, how much smaller it is compare to thinks like “compliance” and “safety and regulations”.
Let’s drill down that one, safety because here’s one another question where we broke it out a little further on safety cultures and safety leadership. And we asked a question on 5-point scale where 5 was the most committed or best score.
So the first question around safety leadership was, “How committed is leadership to safety?” And the average rating across all roles and all industries was 3.31. And then we also asked how visible management in safety leadership. There once again, almost as strong 2.7.
Then we said, “Do directors and senior leaders, when they’re excluded from the survey, how does that changed result?” Numbers went way down as you can see. It went down over 30% lower from 3.3 to 2 in terms of commitments and almost in half in terms of visibility. We think this stat really suggests that leadership needs walk to walk around commitment to safety and visibility rather than just talking about it.
So, non-directors, associate and managers really feel there’s more room for improvement regarding safety. And it appears that higher level employees or leaders may have an inaccurate view of how their employees view safety culture at the organization.
One quote from respondents regarding safety culture and staff said, “We are very reactionary so I expect this trend to continue,” kind of interesting.
And then another trend regarding leadership, safety and compliance, another quote says, “Maintaining EH&S visibility and the critical importance of safety and environmental compliance to senior and executive leadership, EHS and its functions are taking a backseat to many other program and the department is being dispersed and diluted among other functions.”
I think a lot of this we saw through the other answers to the surveys such as being understaffed, such as the fact that a lot of our respondents work not in the EHS department, but it’s dispersed in other departments whether it’s facilities or in the labs or something else like that.
And now let’s drill down a little into further what topics are you most interested in learning about. So a little beyond just priorities and trends but what’s important to you that you feel you need to know more about?
Similarly, no surprise there, compliance and regulatory, and then we have this regulatory training as another category. That was 41%. Changing regulations as an increased focus on compliance are important and critical. On an individual topic, safety is the most popular one.
And then the other 29% of items are things like chemical inventory, sustainability, waste management. Interesting that sustainability is about – I think 10% of you want to learn about sustainability, yet it’s seventh down on the priority list. I think it goes to some of our core of belief as EHS professionals.
Now, coming into the home stretch, I’m going to talk a little bit about technology in the EH&S – how it’s used, what it is used for and things like that. With that, James is going to ask you another poll question.
James: And that poll has just been launched. This is our second of two polls that we’re conducting here. This one asks, “What’s the most important EH&S software you are using?” And there are some options there that you can see – waste management, program management, compliance and reporting, chemical inventory or other.
So we’ll give everyone a few more seconds here and then we’ll see what the response is.
Okay, it looks like the big winner is “compliance and reporting” at 37% and 30% chemical inventory, 19% other, followed by waste management and program management.
Warren: Okay I’ll show you how our survey answer correlates to that. The most important software tool that you’re using today, 34% chemical inventory as well as 34% other. That shows a conglomeration of that.
Chemical inventory for our survey was the number one tool or application. And then, James for this poll that we did, you have 37% in the compliance and reporting. But in the survey that we sent out at the end of the year, that was only 17% so kind of interesting.
Things like program management, waste management, not a lot of people using different software applications for that which I think is interesting particularly compared to other departments. With EH&S, we see phones and other technology – phones which is more like a handheld computer as a way to improve and simplify EH&S tasks; as well as conceivably could be safety hazard if we’re too distracted by our phone but it helps us to identify some other safety hazards as well.
Now let’s talk about social media. We asked the audience, “Which social media platform do you stand the most in? How do you really learn?”
LinkedIn is the most popular social network for EH&S professionals. I don’t think that’s any surprise in that I think LinkedIn is the most popular social network for all business professionals from a business prospective.
In terms of another question, 60% of you get your updates from webinars and 39% from LinkedIn. That was a little bit surprising to me and certainly made me feel good since over the past year, year and a half we’ve implemented this webinar program so a lot of you find value in the webinar that you’re getting your updates from programs such as this one.
And then certainly, EH&S professionals see the increasing prevalence and usage of technology in their everyday life.
So, just a couple of key points, I think the popularity of LinkedIn suggests that EH&S professionals prefer to communicate with like-minded peers, other professionals to find solution for work-related problems whether that’s sharing things on LinkedIn through status updates or links to article that they find. I know a lot of our employees participate in a lot of groups and forums which play a large role in gaining information.
And finally, I’m going to summarize the report findings and then will open it up to question and answers.
Couple of key findings that we had is that EH&S is often an underappreciated and understaffed function. Across every industry, every role that point was made loud and clear.
Safety and regulatory compliance continue to be priorities. I think they always have been and probably always will be. Technology use is growing but still pales compared to other departments.
And another big surprise to us was, sustainability is on people’s minds but certainly not a priority in terms of getting up the chart in the organization’s goals. We think a big part of that maybe because, we’re so hard press to expand staff and just keeping up with the must do’s doesn’t enable us or allow us to really prioritize on sustainability.
Just as a final statement, I would say we found this survey to be very useful and invaluable to us. We looked at challenges, priorities and trends with the associated demographics and questions to provide you what you need to know on the upcoming year.
It really provided us with the valuable insight on where the industry is heading in terms of technology and sustainability. And then of course safety culture, regulatory compliance and more.
Certainly the primary motivator for everyone seems to be finding creative solutions to budgeting and staffing issues within the EH&S departments yet, at the same time, gaining management buy-in and support.
And I think with that James, I’m going to turn it back to you and open up to questions.
James: Sure, thanks Warren. So we got plenty of time here for questions so feel free to type it in the questions box. And then, we have a few that are waiting in the queue that we can get started with right away.
This is a lot of information so I encourage you to ask Warren some more details surrounding methodology, the results or whatever is in your mind and we’ll address that.
So Warren let’s start with a couple that are here. The first does get at the question that we covered early on which was the methodology of the survey.
You talked about we sent this to clients and also others outside of our database. Can you speak to the geographic reach?
Warren: Yes, sure. So as I mention earlier, although Triumvirate service reach is East Coast from Maine to Florida, we certainly got a lot of answers from that group or people who work in those geographies.
However, I think because of our reputation as an industry leader or thought leadership by going to events webinars, etcetera, we’ve gotten quite a large following across the country over the past year. I would say if I have to break it out geographically, maybe 25% to 30% of respondents came from outside our traditional market. There were even a few international respondents.
James: Great! So it’s pretty representative. Of course, based on where we work meaning a bit East Coast. But sure, that’s great. I think that should answer the question there that was asked by that attendee.
Let’s talk little bit more and this question gets at you mention other surveys and there aren’t a whole lot out there in the industry but there maybe a few. How does these results compare to those other industry surveys and benchmark that exist?
Warren: Great question James. There are two surveys that we are aware of that where performed this past year. One is from an organization, NAEM who a lot of you might be familiar with – National Association of Environmental Management. And that survey was career profiles of EHS and sustainability professionals. And there was a strong deep dive in the roles and responsibilities and how long they had worked in the field.
We only asked one, maybe two questions around role and what department they worked in. And that was really the whole focus of that survey.
However, one question that did ask that I don’t think they addressed, which I’d like to do a follow up deep dive on in our next survey, was that question on, “Was EH&S was your first primary career of choice?”
No one asked that. And then, I’d like to learn what attracted you to EH&S, and how long you obviously worked in the field.
There’s another surveys that we came across by a company called Verdantix which is an international consulting and technology vendor in the EH&S field, that was around global EHS survey and attitudes.
The survey is a little larger than ours. They’re a UK based company. The survey is a little larger than ours at about 300 and so respondents but it was global and international. So in that case, although a lot of trends are on safety and regulatory, I think we’re similar. There was a much stronger focus and perspective on sustainability because I think, Europe certainly has been way ahead of us here in the US with the focus and sustainability.
James: Sure, that’s make sense.
Warren: That was the only two surveys that addresses to any large degree that we found, that we’re aware of.
James: Great. We were talking a bit about sustainability, maybe some surprise there as to where that ranked. And you talked a bit about it being more a priority in the life sciences industry.
Besides, sustainability and staffing, where there any other nuances or notable differences between industries that you noticed?
Warren: Between industries, a couple of things. Some of the priorities were a little bit different in terms of order. Safety was a paramount importance to everyone. The Delta on the safety culture between management and associates, I think, was consistent across the board.
I think for the most part, there was a lot consistency across all the industries other than what we’ve noted like with life sciences, for example.
The other things in terms of being understaff, a few of the industries felt like they were way understaffed like education and health care. Education at the highest percentage of being understaff at 82% on life science was 58%.
James: Right. That’s a huge difference compared to other questions. Maybe at follow up, we can dive in and see what other thoughts are there.
We’re getting quarter up, I think we’ve got one more question here. I’ll see if anyone has anything remaining. Feel free to send it along. Otherwise, we can follow-up with you afterwards if something comes to mind. So, we’ll take one, maybe two more.
Warren, this one is kind of a question that gets to your reaction when looking through the survey. Was there anything that surprised you the most? If not, I guess this might be consisted with what you thought but was there anything that stood out to you?
Warren: Yes, I think there’s a lot of things that we can really drill down into deeply. One thing is, as I mention that gap around safety culture. I think that’s really worth to exploring and improving, reducing, diminishing that gap will be interesting.
And then also, we asked very detailed questions around, all the different of work activities based on our suspicion about being understaffed or overworked. Would you consider hiring consultants for these activities?
For the majority, the percentage even though they felt understaff was not much consideration for consultants. So that was somewhat of a surprise because typically they go hand in hand.
James: Right, that was pretty well. Here’s the last question. Here’s a good one that talks about technology.
How willing are the companies to spend money on technology to automate some of the EHS processes?
Warren: That’s a great question that we should have asked. I think we should do that for next year. But clearly, having worked in technology for the bulk of my life, productivity improvements whether in a form of savings or incremental revenue or efficiencies or operational improvements are really what justifies the investments and get software implemented.
So I think that, implementing some sort of enterprise-wide application, like a waste management application for example or perhaps chemical inventory as popular choice – I think by demonstrating those operational efficiencies, I think that’s the way to get them improved, get them implemented and then get the staffing balanced again and improved. Good question. Thanks.
We’ll make a note of that and make sure to ask that next year.
James: Right. Like you said, we’re going to do this on an annual basis so we’ll continue to build on what we’ve started here.
So Warren, I think this is a good time to start to wrap things up. I really appreciate the presentation. Everyone who attended today will get a copy of not only the presentation but also the report that Warren detailed here and some of his insights and analysis.
We also have some additional webinars coming up. As you may have noticed, we're running them on pretty much a weekly basis now.
So coming up next week, we have an introduction to peroxide formers and following that, OSHA inspection preparation webinar. Some more details to follow and I hope to see you at one or both of those events.
Warren: The always popular OSHA webinar. Actually, we’ve done both of these several times and they’re very popular so make sure you register early.
James: Yup. And that’s that. Do you have anything else to add, Warren before we start to close down here?
Warren: I really appreciate your participation both attending this webinar and maybe even several of you took part on the survey so, thank you very much. I found it very enlightening. I hope that you did.
We will send you a copy of the report next week and hopefully you can use that to help guide your direction and conversations moving forward 2016. Thank you very much.
James: Very good. And there’s a few resources that you will receive including a survey. Thank everyone, appreciate your attention and participation. Have a great one.
Warren: Thanks. Take care.