Your employees are the root of your business. They’re also the foundation of your safety programme. Without them, even the best safety team in the world can’t make a safety programme succeed.
The key is getting employees on board. That’s not a matter of implementing policy but getting employee behaviour in line with the programme. But changing behaviour isn’t quite as easy as setting a safety policy.
How can a workplace change safety behaviour for the better? Here are a few tips to get you heading in the right direction.
What’s Missing – Pinpoint the Issues
The first step in changing negative safety behaviour is to pinpoint the problem behind that behaviour. Most of the time, it’s not as obvious as you think.
For example, employee resistance to change is a problem that haunts many a workplace. Yet many employees aren’t necessarily resistant to the change itself – they’re resistant to what they see as changing commitments in the relationship.
An employee and an employer have an agreed-upon relationship with certain commitments to each other. When an employer begins to make organizational changes, they start to alter the rules of the relationship. This unsettles many employees because the rules they relied on may not work anymore. At worst, employees can interpret this as their job being written out of existence.
The same thing can be said of workplace safety. If your employees are resistant to a new safety policy, for example, it may be because they’re getting conflicting messages. Certain productivity targets may be hampered by the new policy, and unless quotas change to reflect the new policy, employees will have to make a choice, and they’ll almost always make the choice they believe will save their job.
Inspire, Instead of Nagging
Once you pinpoint the nature of the issue, you’re ready to start tackling the problem. The key here is to inspire, not nag.
If employees are nagged to change something (regardless of whether or not they deserve it), they begin to feel that they’re being punished, or that the boss cares more about meeting certain numbers than listening to their subordinates.
At the end of the day, you can’t force an employee to change. They have to make the decision to change on their own. If you nag someone to change, you’re trying to bully them into a box and they’ll only resist you further.
But if you inspire them to change, you’re planting a seed that encourages them to take a new perspective and decide to pursue change as a worthwhile endeavour.
We have assisted many diverse organisations over two decades with employee engagement, safety leadership and human factors. If you would like to know more contact:
Cheshire: 01928 515977
London: 0203 773 2736