Safety Buy-in Starts With A Single Thought

Business development is the focus of most companies. Getting more customers, making more sales, upselling existing clients. Companies hone and adjust their marketing messages to attract more revenues. When more clients buy from us, there is cause for celebration.


Sometimes, what’s being sold is a product, sometimes a service, sometimes an idea or point-of-view. But business doesn’t develop until someone buys something.


In order to buy, someone needs to sell.

When you’re a job seeker, you’re selling yourself. Lawyers are selling to juries to keep their clients out of prison. When you go looking for a raise, you’re selling your value and experience.

Even the consultants and self-proclaimed experts who try to dominate the LinkedIn discussions are trying (seemingly desperately) to sell their point-of-view. Unfortunately, cynicism, mockery, and ridicule are ineffective tools in getting others to buy-in.

However, when we try to get our employees to improve their safety performance, we are in effect, trying to get buy-in to our way of doing things. That is selling. Before someone will “buy” someone else has to “sell.”

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Internal marketing is key to safety buy-in.

We are selling to our internal customers, our employees. This is internal marketing, and it is necessary to get buy-in to any goal, idea, or even the safety program.

Internal marketing is the best way to help employees make a powerful emotional connection to safety. Without that emotional connection, employees can undermine safety unconsciously.

In some cases, it is because they simply don’t understand what it is that you want them to do specifically. So, they end up working at cross-purposes. It may be that employees feel disengaged or even hostile toward their own company. Employees don’t want to give their all to an employer who doesn’t seem to value them or their contribution.

However, when employees believe in the mission and they buy-in to the plan to achieve that mission, they’re more motivated to work harder and their loyalty to the company increases. Employees become more unified and inspired by a common sense of purpose and identity.

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Create a unified vision for safety.

An organization that doesn’t understand internal marketing is going to struggle to get employees unified around a common theme based on safety. Oh, there is certainly a need to keep people informed about the company’s safety strategy and direction, but very few organizations understand the need to convince employees of why safety is necessary to achieve the employees’ own goals.

What’s more, the people who are charged with internal safety communications, like the safety and HR departments, and even the front-line supervisors don’t have the marketing skills to communicate it successfully. Instead, PowerPoint slides, bar graphs and charts, and lots of talk about numbers are the tools of choice. Ineffective tools that are not designed to convince employees of the uniqueness of the company’s safety strategy. The intent usually is to tell people what the company is doing, not to sell them on getting behind the idea.

There needs to be a vision for safety, a unifying idea that employees can “live” in their day-to-day activities. And when employees live that vision, they are much more likely to experience their own participation in safety in a way that’s consistent with working toward the vision and goals of safety.

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The safety mission in a single phrase.

The first step of getting any kind of employee buy-in to the safety program is to get rid of distraction and superfluous numbers assaults. Can you boil down your safety purpose and vision to a single phrase? If you can’t, then you’re going to struggle with buy-in from your team.

It is imperative that every good communications strategy must revolve around a single idea. That idea needs to become the foundation of how all communication is structured.

That foundational statement needs to be seven words or less. And yes, every organization that I have taken through this exercise has successfully reduced their foundational safety statement to seven or fewer words. And they have felt more powerful and focused as a result.

It is a process that works. No more will you struggle with throwing a bunch of mixed messages out there and hoping something sticks. This is a plan to focus your safety communications on a single foundational idea. And then everything you say after will support that statement.

If you want to get employee buy-in to safety, the best way to start is with a single foundational statement. The RYT Program is where you start.

Topics: safety leadership, safety culture, safety buy-in, safety communications