How Can You Motivate Employees to Prioritize Safety?


Safety happens on a day-to-day basis. It’s like working out or keeping up with your diet. It requires constant reinforcement and motivation. It’s not enough to make a speech about it occasionally and put up some posters. You need to take steps to make it a priority, day in and day out.

This requires motivating your employees. They’re the ones who have to implement the policies. It’s important to keep them thinking about safety and get them excited (or as excited as possible) about following the guidelines you have in place.

But how? We’ve got four suggestions on how to motivate your employees to keep safety first in their minds:

Get Employees Involved

If safety seems like a top-down decree, employees might see it as an imposition. However, if you can give workers some ownership over safety checks and the safety regime, the process will feel less alien or forced.

Allow employees to get involved in safety oversight. Form committees of workers to discuss safety and run routine checks.

Using the Carrot, Not the Stick

Tell us if this habit sounds familiar: Safety regulations only come up when one is violated. The feeling around safety can become negative because so much of the communication surrounding the issue tends toward negativity.

How many of your safety initiatives involve the word “don’t”? That can’t be helped. But find ways to create a more positive attitude. Give rewards when your team does a good job of compliance (instead of just handing out reprimands when someone does something wrong).

Open Communication

Your workers are the ones who must follow the safety guidelines all day. They know how the regulations affect them on a day-to-day basis. So, they are likely to have useful feedback on the best way to implement rules.

Even if they can’t do much to change the structures you have to put in place (there’s nothing you can do about OSHA standards and other non-negotiable regulations), just allowing your employees to be heard can go a long way in improving their feelings on the issue.

If something can be changed, you can do something to make their work lives a little easier. If something can’t be changed, the open communication policy gives you the opportunity to explain why the rule exists. The added understanding will likely defuse any bad feelings surrounding an unpopular policy.

Don’t Just Do Safety Lip Service

Some companies provide a detailed safety plan, then create production or output expectations that make following safety regulations nearly impossible. If a rule requires a lengthy safety check before some task, but the daily schedule doesn’t leave time to run through the check, employees are likely to put safety aside to get the job done.

This is a recipe for disaster in the long run. If you have a safety procedure in place, make sure to build safety into the daily routine. When developing output expectations, plan for the time necessary to run through all the best safety practices. And make sure employees know their safety is your first concern.

This will avoid any resentment related to the safety rules, and make your workers feel protected, making a better workplace environment in general.

The first step to getting your employees to prioritize safety: Having the right employees in the first place. Working with a staffing partner can ensure you have a well-trained, self-motivating workforce.

As a leader in the field, DHR can bring you that kind of workforce. Contact us today to find out more.

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