We recently talked about setting Work Health and Safety goals for the new year and went into some detail about how to identify what goals to set, develop SMART goals, and create team enthusiasm for the goals that were identified.

Goals are motivating, keep everyone on track and give your business direction. Sharing the goals with the wider team is crucial to achieving your business’s WHS objectives.

So what’s next?

Goals are one thing – a fantastic, inspirational, and directional target. How you reach those goals though, is an equally important factor. Again, this does not need to be over-complicated. Put simply, achieving goals is not possible without action plans and accountabilities.


What is an Action Plan?

An action plan is a simple document that breaks down a goal into smaller steps, listing who is accountable for what, the resources needed, and timeframes.

Each goal should have its own action plan to accompany it so that everyone understands how that goal will be achieved, and the necessary requirements to make it happen.

Action Plans can be as simple as a Word or Excel document that has the goal name, followed by the headings of each element (action, the person responsible, start date, due date, and resources required).

Additionally, other useful action templates could be found online, your HRIS may be able to facilitate action plans or it could be used to assign tasks (e.g. in Employment Hero a business can assign tasks to individuals or teams with due dates, collaborators, and sub-task options).

Often managers may feel a little guilty about assigning employees tasks and putting them on action items, however, it is valuable for both managers and employees to work this way, as it enables all parties to be aware of what is needed from them, and what timeframes they have to do things. It also creates clarity around workload and expectations.

Providing clear direction is really important in enabling good work efficiencies and minimising stress/anxiety (psychological hazards) around workload and uncertainty.


Writing the Action Plan

As with goal setting, developing the action plan is best done in collaboration with those people who will be involved. We know that early involvement and good communication lead to better buy-in for the team (and then better outcomes and deliverables).

Some goals will be longer-term projects, others will be achieved much more quickly. All goals need an Action Plan.


Step One

First, you would consider the goal, then who would need to be involved to make it happen? Write the names down and contact the team members to let them know you may need their involvement in the activity.

We’d suggest holding a meeting with the selected team members to go through the action planning.

You could also draft up your vision of the action plan first, then bring this to the team, however, you may lose some commitment from the team if they are not involved from the very beginning.


Step Two

Get the team together. Grab the template you have decided to use and write the Goal Name at the top.

You may like to use a physical whiteboard or pieces of paper if in a room together, or you can use one of the clever apps in the virtual space if meeting online. If you are meeting virtually, share your screen to show the Action Plan template that the group will be working on, so everyone can see.

The Agenda might look like talking through the goal again (briefly) and revisiting why this goal is really significant for the business and team.

You would then brainstorm the required steps to get that goal achieved. Write everyone’s ideas down and then towards the end, re-order them into what should happen first, second, third, etc.

Some steps may need to be done simultaneously and if that’s the case, you may just order them with the same step number, to signify they are to be done at the same time.


Step Three

Once the steps are complete and agreed, the team would work together to assign who is responsible for each step. Depending on the size of the business, the step may be solely one person’s responsibility to complete, or that person assigned, may be able to enlist the support of others in the business (e.g. their team) to get the step completed.

Ultimately, the person whose name is listed on the step is responsible for making it happen.

We always suggest including names, not roles, to make things transparent.

Then assign a start date and due date, remembering the start dates could be random (they may not necessarily start in chronological order to reflect the step order), however, then end dates would likely need to run one after the other.


Step Four

Work with the team to determine what resources may be needed to achieve that step. Resources could include human resources (e.g. additional expertise, consultants, or employees), tools and equipment, money/funding, documentation (e.g. which policies or procedures may assist), external resources or stakeholders, and legal requirements (e.g. you could reference which section of the WHS Act this step links to, or any Guidelines, Codes of Practice or material that could be needed/used).


WHS Action Plan Example:

Here is an example of a WHS Goal you may have set, and an action plan that could be developed for that goal:

EXAMPLE WHS GOAL: Develop a Safe Work Procedure for Cleaning the Deep Fat Fryer

Step Action Person Responsible Start Date Due Date Resources
1 Complete a risk assessment on process of cleaning the deep fat fryer. Matilda Smith 01/02/2023 15/02/2023

Risk Assessment template.

Team members who work with fryer.

Incident reports related to fryer.

Fryer instruction manual.

2 Review Safe Work Procedure template to ensure it is current. Send updated / current version to Matilda when complete. Joe Delaney 01/02/2023 15/02/2023 SWP template.
3 Transfer data from Risk Assessment to SWP (risk rating/hazards/ required PPE). Matilda Smith 20/02/2023 01/03/2023 Completed risk assessment. SWP template.
4 Work with team to go through steps of cleaning the deep fryer and write into SWP. Identify related hazards with steps. Draft SWP. Matilda Smith 02/03/2023 05/03/2023

Kitchen team.

Deep fryer instruction manual.

5 Send final draft to kitchen team for their review and feedback. Matilda Smith 07/03/2023 07/03/2023 Kitchen team.
6 Review feedback and finalise SWP. Share final document on HRIS with relevant team. Matilda Smith 08/03/2023 08/03/2023 HRIS platform.
7 Kitchen Team Leader to run through SWP and train all kitchen team members in the new procedure, collecting signatures. Kevin Halliday 15/03/2023 20/03/2023

Kitchen team.

SWP document.

Complete in 2 sessions to enable café to operate while training taking place with ½ the team.

8 Update HRIS / employee files with training details. Joe Delaney 20/03/2023 25/03/2023


Copy of SWP with signatures.

9 Schedule refresher training for 12 months’ time. Kevin Halliday 25/03/2023 15/03/2024

Calendar/ roster.

Schedule training in HRIS & online calendars.



Remember when you and your team become stuck or bogged down in the inevitable daily grind, reflect on your WHS goals and Action Plans. It can help to check in and see how everything is progressing against the Plans.

Action Plans are a simple but effective way of keeping everyone on track, motivated (how great is it when things get ticked off!) and enabling the successful achievement of your bigger WHS objectives.


About Employment Innovations

Employment Innovations is one of Australia’s leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium sized employer needs – including workplace advice, legal services, payroll solutions, migration, human resource management and HR software.



The information provided in these blog articles is general in nature and is not intended to substitute for professional advice. If you are unsure about how this information applies to your specific situation we recommend you contact Employment Innovations for advice.