In the tree care industry, a communication breakdown can have devastating consequences. Even for the most experienced pro, the job site can be a hazardous environment — it’s the nature of the business. Establishing and utilizing proper communications within your crew is crucial to reducing the likelihood of an accident. An effective strategy for crews on the go is the tailgate meeting. This method offers the opportunity to discuss that day’s work and allows employees to address any issues they see on the site. Tailgate meetings should also be utilized for continued discussion of your safety program. To make the most of a tailgate meeting, OSHA suggests:

  • Use a discussion starter: a question or statement that motivates your crew to talk.
  • Challenge participants to think.
  • Repeat employees ideas to emphasize important points.
  • Keep a steady pace.
  • Keep the discussion focused by relating comments back to the main topic.
  • Periodically summarize key points.
  • Minimize your participation so the discussion doesn’t become a lecture.
  • Summarize everything in writing and distribute to employees.

In addition to contributing to a safe job site, proper communication can also contribute to a happier and more productive crew. It’s also critical to establishing employee loyalty. In one study conducted in 2006, more than 80 percent of employees polled in the U.S. and U.K. said that employee communication influences their desire to stay with or leave an organization. Nearly a third said communication was a “big influence” on their decision.

Read more: The Importance of Work Site Communication