By implementing an internal marketing strategy for safety, employees are treated as critical stakeholders who must be convinced of a company's safety vision.
To get employees to buy-in to safety, you need a consistent and compelling message that resonates with your people. And, to be clear, a compelling message is not some safety slogan you downloaded from the Internet. Don’t just take something you think is clever that someone else came up with and turn it into posters all over your workplace. You’ve got to understand what resonates with your team.
Good employees who have special skills and talent take pride in their work and they protect that pride by engaging in safety.
Without getting into long descriptions, good workplace safety culture is the result of attitudes and personal and corporate values aligning. If apathy in the workplace exists, little care will be given to safety. When the quality of the work is “good enough,” apathy in safety exists. If employees think it's a lousy place to work, then safety will take a back seat. Poor safety attitudes will impede becoming a top performer. That reflects in both safety and financial performance. A broken safety culture will have an impact on overall corporate performance.
You cannot change the safety culture without addressing the underlying attitudes and values. Attitudes, values and culture drive everything.
A 2013 study states that “when organizations have engaged workers, they are 18 percent more productive than their competitors, 12 percent more profitable, have 22 percent higher-than-average shareholder returns, and have employees who are 57 percent more effective and 87 percent less likely to leave.”
Safety people and supervisors get concerned when their employees won't buy-in to safety. They also complain about employees' lack of engagement and a lack of accountability in the safety program. But what if the safety messaging is aimed below the intellect of the same people you're trying to reach? What if you've dumbed it down too far? What if you've underestimated your own people?
Communications that miss the target can undermine your efforts in safety. Generic slogans and feeble safety campaigns downloaded from the Internet do not resonate with most people (Hint: there's a reason they're free for the taking on the Internet). And people do not connect with anything that doesn't resonate with them. A slogan for a slogan’s sake can do more harm than good.
Generic safety messages are like an ill-fitting suit. Buy a suit off the rack and it looks like a cheap attempt to dress-up. But go to a tailor and have one built specifically for youy and you are willing to wear it proudly. The same too with a safety message. It has to fit perfectly, or your people won't wear it.
Those who complain about using marketing to advance their safety programs just don't understand its value.
The safety purists hate the idea of marketing safety. But then, they object to anything that doesn`t involve process, procedure, the law, or enforcement. They oppose the idea that safety needs to be marketed or sold. They complain that marketing of safety is crass and fluff. Those who complain about using marketing to advance their safety programs just don't understand its value. Better to condemn than to admit you don’t understand right?
Marketing, although a science, is not that difficult to comprehend.
What is it that makes a family choose one brand of laundry soap over another? What is it that makes a person choose one brand of truck over another? Android or iPhone? Apple or Microsoft? Starbucks or Tim Hortons? OK, that last reference is decidedly Canadian. The same question could be asked of employees. What makes one employee buy-in to safety and another to simply tolerate safety rules?
Highly engaged employees aligned with the safety program make the company money, reduce turnover and lower incident rates.
Safety is fast becoming the best tool to recruit, hire and retain good people. Simply put, when yours is the best and safest place to work, you will attract and retain the best employees. But if your employees identify with even a few points on the list below, you will have some work to do in finding good people and, more importantly, hanging on to the good ones you have.
In organizing your safety promotion campaign, here are three things you absolutely must stop doing if you want to get safety buy-in.
When marketing and promotion of safety goes up, incidents go down. Plain and simple, this works. Promoting safety raises awareness which causes people to be focused. Safety promotion is a key component of any good safety program. Ongoing campaigns for safety remind employees to make good decisions between safety meetings.
Don't worry that senior management is not supporting your Safety Culture initiative. Truthfully, you don’t need their help.
Corporate Culture is the glue that holds your organization together - how you do things, how you hire, how you even handle meetings. Safety Culture is the way your people do safety. But as I wrote in an earlier Blog post, the Unspoken Code of peers is one of the largest contributors to Culture. Companies who attempt to shift Culture without taking into account The Code, run a real risk.
In PeopleWork, Kevin Burns presents his M4 Method of people-centered management for safety. Practical, how-to steps that frontline supervisors and safety people can master to promote a relationship-based culture focused on mentoring, coaching, and inspiring teams.