What’s your Safety Bounce Rate?

What’s a bounce rate?

According to Google, “The percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page)”.

Someone clicked on a link, scanned the webpage, and left without looking/clicking on anything else. High bounce rates (over 55%) are generally bad and low bounce rates (less than 40%) are preferred.

High bounce rates are often a function of unclear navigation, dissimilar content (e.g. they came looking for kangaroos and saw monkeys), nothing to do/buy (referred to as a call-to-action), pop-ups, and a slow connection/page load time.

How’s your safety bounce rate?

  • When people call you, are you easy to reach? When you’re away, is there a reliable way to leave a message?
  • When workers interact with you and your team, are they getting what they came for? Are you providing solutions or additional barriers?
  • Do you have a call-to-action? Can people easily sign-up for and attend training? Report incidents quickly?
  • Are people seeing safety pop-ups? These frustrating time-wasters include annual training with an unclear “why”, safety emails and posters that emphasize the same old things the same old way (yes, barbeque safety is important, but is it materially driving your EMR?)
  • How is your page load time? When people ask a question, do they wait weeks for an answer or appointment? Do your office hours or customer service attitude inhibit interaction?

There is no Google Analytics page for Safety. One quick test for EHS? If your phone doesn’t ring and no one comes to your office, it’s not because there are no problems. It’s time to check your bounce rate.

“The day the soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” – Colin Powell

Five Questions for a Smaller Budget

New fiscal years bring new budgets. If your new year brought increased costs, increased responsibility, and a smaller overall dollar figure, what do you do (after rolling your eyes, throwing up your hands, and sitting back down)?

Before spending a dime (because it may be 50 percent of that new budget), here are five questions to ask yourself and your team:

  1. Where’s the worst dollar? What program, service or product are you buying with little to no return? How can you eliminate, reduce, or redirect this spending?
  2. Where’s the best dollar? We’ve all seen the figures that safety investments return $4-6 for every $1 spent. Is it true in your organization? Where are you seeing similar outsized returns?
  3. What if it doubled? If your budget doubled tomorrow, what’s your plan? What projects would you take on? What hazards would you tackle? What losses would you prevent?
  4. What if it halved? If that manager (you know the one) cut your budget by 50 percent, what would go first? Second? What would be the last thing to go (and thus your highest priority)?
  5. What are you building? With your current budget, what are you investing in for next year? Are you only buying fuel to keep the engine running or are you investing in performance parts to build efficiency and effectiveness? What will next year’s you look back on and thank the current you for?

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” – Henry David Thoreau


Where Does the Time Go?


In EHS, time flies. Calm mornings end with frantic phone calls and perfectly prioritized plans are replaced by meetings, hazards, assessments, and investigations.

The day comes to an end, leaving you with two new undone projects and frustrated with an overall lack of progress in any area.

But the time goes somewhere.

Getting a handle on where you spend your time is the first step toward the progress you desire (and need).

Try this.

David Seah created the “Emergent Task Timer” or ETT for reactionary and distracting jobs. In other words, perfect for EHS. (Free to download and print at this link) In David’s words, “ETT is designed to provide maximum insight with a minimum of data entry. It’s useful not only for time analysis, but for timesheet logging too. You’ll see the patterns of your day emerge as you use the form; there’s no need to add-up numbers or process the data any further.”

Looking for other productivity tools? Check out David’s site here.

Favorite Reading Lists


“I don’t have time to read another book.”

Even though I read an average of 50 books a year, this thought comes up from time to time.  Then Mark Twain reminds me, “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”

Okay. Maybe one more.

Here are several reading lists that I use to filter through the vast titles of available books for the very best.

Admiral (ret) James Stavridis writes in his book The Leader’s Bookshelf that Secretary of Defense (and retired General) James Mattis has what could be the largest personal library of any active-duty military officer ever. Secretary Mattis recommended these 30 books (from his own 7,000 book library) to Foreign Policy during an interview.

The Air Force’s Reading List (My favorite so far on the most recent list is The Effective Executive)

The Army’s Reading List  (A short story called “A Message to Garcia”. Read it for free at this link.)

The Navy’s Reading List (Try Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World)

The Marine Corps’ Reading List (Once an Eagle is a must!)

The Coast Guard’s Reading List  (again Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World)

Derek Sivers’ List (includes fantastic summaries and his personal book notes) (The most difficult list to pick a favorite from…either Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind or Ego Is the Enemy)

Ryan Holiday’s List (find his annual lists here) (The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt)

Do you have a recommended reading list? How about a favorite book from last year?

Harvard Business Review’s Four Qualities of Top-Performing CEOs


If you thought integrity and a strong work ethic, you’d be wrong. (Actually, 100% of the low-performing CEOs were rated high for integrity and 97% had a strong work ethic.)

In a study published in the Harvard Business Review May-June 2017, researchers poured through a 10-year CEO Genome Study to track performance evaluations of 13,000 C-level executives, to include 2,000 CEOs, when compared with 30 management competencies. The authors are also releasing a book on the study entitled, The CEO Next Door: The 4 Behaviors That Transform Ordinary People into World-Class Leaders.

Of the highest-performing executives, here are the top four behaviors:

  1. Decisive: Those who were high performing were 12 times more likely to be described as deciding with speed and conviction.
  2. Engage with a results orientation: They don’t invest in being liked or in shielding the team from uncomfortable decisions, but these top-performers do build confidence with their team and have a “willingness” to engage in conflict.
  3. Adapt proactively: The highest-rated executives spent 50% of their time thinking about the future, compared with 30% for their peer group. They also measured very high for their ability to deal with setbacks.
  4. Consistent delivery: In what the researchers described as “…possibly the most powerful of the four essential CEO behaviors”, reliable production was key to executive selection. They set realistic expectations, go to work, and deliver every time.

Which of these qualities could you grow stronger in? Do any of these qualities conflict with how you see a top performer?

Link to HBR article.

Key Skills of Highly Successful Safety Professionals (What’s Missing?)


What if you were in charge of the training and development of over 750 safety professionals?  What key skills are missing from traditional EHS education and training? How could you make this outstanding team the best in the world?

That’s the question that I had to ask myself when I was hired as the Air Force Safety career field manager three years ago.

I brainstormed these questions with a colleague. Here are a few areas of skill and knowledge we came up with:

Negotiation, personal/professional development, marketing, value creation, strategic planning, change management, networking, and statistics.

If every safety professional could blend their existing skills and knowledge of EHS with the above subjects, they’d be unstoppable!

That’s when we got stuck. What resources existed in these areas for the already busy EHS professional?

We couldn’t find one.

So we created one and it’s premiering at ASSE Safety 2018. We’re teaching a full-day course (Session 405 “MBA Essentials for Busy EHS Professional”) on the above topics (and more).

CAUTION: It’s not for everyone. But if you’re looking to make an impact in the profession, pursue significant opportunities in 2018, and collaborate with others like you, this might be for you. There are limited seats available.

You can sign up here (discount rates apply before 28 Feb 18.) For blog subscribers, if you let me know when you sign up, you’ll earn the chance to win a free copy of The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business when you attend on 3 June 2018 in San Antonio. (Subscribe fast here-no spam ever)

Want to know more? Email me at josh@connectingehs.com.



Tabletop exercises are used in many organizations to test a hypothetical situation. In brief, tabletops pretend something is true then focus resources to solve the created problem.

For example, an oil drilling company may ask, “If there was a category 5 hurricane heading our way and we had 48 hours to prepare, what’s our plan?”

Tabletops clarify roles, validate training, measure improvements, and test procedural changes.

They also work for the individual.

Instead of a hurricane, let’s pretend something else is true. Something you really want. What’s your biggest goal right now in life?

Let’s pretend the goal is to quit your job and sail around the world for a year. (Don’t like boats? Feel free to use your own method of travel for this tabletop.)

Ask yourself, “What would have to be true for me to quit in August of 2019 and sail for one year?”

  • You’d need a year of living expenses. How much would that be? How could you earn or save that amount?
  • You’d need access to a boat (rented, bought or borrowed).
  • You’d need to learn to sail. Where could you get lessons?
  • You’d need charts and a plan for circumnavigation.

When you pose the right question, your mind fills in the rest.

You can use this one technique to simplify a process (What would have to be true to accomplish this project in 20% of the allotted time?); to earn a huge promotion (What would have to be true for me to be the top performer and most qualified member of this organization?); and even to change your life (What would have to be true for me to live in Fiji in 2019?).

What will you tabletop?


Why would you stay in the military with a CSP and a Master’s degree for enlisted pay?


In Air Force Safety, we hire (cross-train) 45 active-duty and up to 70 Guard/Reserve Airmen annually. They’ve typically been in the military 4 to 6 years and are looking for a job with both military and civilian future potential. Their first safety training is at Lackland Air Force Base, where the safety students learn from some of the best military safety instructors in the business.

Somewhere in the 6-week course, they learn that a CSP earns $109,000 on average. I have the opportunity to meet with many of the students, and inevitably, the question arises;

“Why did you stay in for enlisted pay if EHS pays so well on the outside?”

(NOTE: The questioner is usually great at math and appreciates an answer with more numbers than emotions.)

My favorite Department of Defense actuarial report (don’t roll your eyes yet) is the “STATISTICAL REPORT ON THE MILITARY RETIREMENT SYSTEM”. Published each fiscal year (FY16 is the latest report), it details the cost of military pay and retirement plans.

Some highlights I like to use to answer this question:

An E-7’s retirement at 20 years of service is worth $689,299, or $2,181 a month for life (with cost-of-living increases.) To build up such a high lump-sum, the E-7 would have had to save $1,645 a month for 20 years!

An E-9’s retirement at 20 years of service is worth $862,177, or $2,728 a month for life (with cost-of-living increases.) To build up such a high lump-sum, the E-9 would have had to save $2,058 a month for 20 years!

Using that math, when an E-6 separates from the military for a larger civilian CSP salary, at the 8 or 10 year mark, they are giving up between $689k and 862k in pension benefits alone (not including healthcare, etc.)! To make up this pension difference in a civilian safety career, if they got out after 8 years (and would have retired as an E-7) they would have to save $3,400 a month at 6% interest. That’s nearly $41,000 a year for 12 years. That level of required savings takes a lot out of the $109,000 average CSP salary!

Bottom Line? Even with the 2018 changes in military retirement (Blended Military Retirement), the military’s defined benefit pension is a fantastic option for the safety professional looking to make a difference in the military and in their career path by choosing higher education/credentialing.

Some of my other favorite parts of the DoD report:

  • They know when you’re going to die (on average): Page 283/284
  • They know where you live (state and country): Pages 28 and 33
  • Should you take the Survivor Benefit Plan? Here’s the actuaries’ own calculator (Excel file) to tell you the probability of it paying off for you.

There are MANY reasons to continue to serve (and separate) after achieving advanced degrees and certifications.

How did you make your choice?

College and Certification Hacks for the Military Safety Professional

(Note: While written for the uniformed safety professional, many of the tips below work for a variety of situations.)

There are many ways to complete and pay for college and professional certifications. Here are a few I’ve personally used, how much I saved, and a link for more information.

  1. College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams: With 33 exams available for free to service members, this is a must-do for college credit. Between DANTES (next tip) and CLEP, I took 30 (passing 28) exams, which put a huge dent in the credits required for my under-grad degree. Estimated savings: $2,040 ($85 x 24 CLEP exams) and at least 18 months of class-time.
  2. Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES): Offering 38 exams through DSST, these exams also confer free college credit similar to CLEP. Estimated savings: $480 ($80 x 6 exams) and at least 6 months of class-time.
  3. Tuition Assistance (TA): Each service member receives $4,500 per fiscal year to use toward an accredited undergrad or graduate degree. If the $4,500 isn’t used, it virtually disappears with end of the fiscal year. I earned both a bachelors and a masters using TA to fund 95% of the cost (5% was out-of-pocket book costs.) Estimated savings: $38,000 (15 undergrad and 16 graduate classes)
  4. Credentialing Opportunities Online (COOL): Each service member receives $4,500 (career cap) towards certification preparation, exam, and annual fees. Certifications are limited to those in your career field if you’re an E-1 through E-6. For E-7 through E-9, the funds can be also used for leadership certifications (PMP, Green Belt, etc.). I earned many of my certifications before COOL came out, but took three exams using COOL in the past two years. Estimated savings: $2,000 (study books and exams)
  5. Deploy: The Institutes has a military program where they provide discounted and free (for deployers) study material and exams for their credentials. While there are multiple certifications available, I chose to complete the Associate in Risk Management-Enterprise Risk Management (ARM-E) and the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) during a couple of my deployments. Estimated savings: $6,200 (12 exams plus study material)
  6. Stop paying annual certification dues: Per DoDI 6055.01 Enclosure 3 para 4.d.(1), your service is authorized to pay annual certification fees (and pay for the certification preparation and exams). Estimated savings: $1,200 (3 years and 10 annual fees)
  7. No application fees: The Board of Certified Safety Professionals waives the $160 application fee for government employees (including military). Estimated savings: $500 (4 exams at various fee schedules)

Total estimated savings: $50,420 and nearly two years of class-time.

Which have you used to hack your college and/or certifications?

What have you used that I’ve left out of the list above?



“I worked with a CSP who was a terrible safety professional”

I hear this well-worn line on a near weekly basis. It’s typically used by mature “professionals” to denounce certification as a significant waypoint on a career progression path. As something trivial and in some ways at odds with experience and good judgement.

On my best days, I get it. I understand the sentiment that certification is not the silver bullet for professional competence.

This is not one of those best days. Today, I see this line of thinking as a weak excuse for jadedness in one’s own career.

We all know people with credentials (of every type) who truly perform below-average and do not meet a given standard. Lawyers, financial advisors, real estate agents, bankers, and even medical doctors. They have the certification, but their performance lacks competence.

If certification doesn’t linearly equate to professional competence, how about experience? Doesn’t 30 years of experience in a field of work mean something? Yes, sometimes. Other times, we’re reminded of the person who performed at a low-level their first year in the business and simply repeated Year 1 again and again and again.

If not experience, certainly education? A graduate degree or even post-doctoral work, where one researches and publishes on a field of study should make one competent? Nope. We’ve all worked with those people who cannot seem translate book knowledge to practical application.

Where does that leave the argument? If competence is not perfectly aligned with certification, experience, nor education (and it’s not), how do we build not only the next generation of EHS professionals, but also increase the capacity and capability of the current generation?

I believe the solution lies in a combination of three key areas; certification, experience, and education. Remove any one item and the three-legged stool falls.

But to jeer from the sidelines that certification and education do not make a better professional? That line of thinking only leads to mediocrity and an early professional plateau with a missed opportunity to make a real difference.