Employees may know logically that safety is the right choice. But, it is the story of why you choose safety that is more compelling to others.
What’s your story? Everyone has a story about the time they made the decision to jump on the safety bandwagon. Everyone has a story of why safety is important to them. Some of those stories may be as the result of suffering a workplace injury. Some may be of losing a friend or family member. Some may be from a realization from something someone said that affected them at an emotional level. But before most people choose safety as one of their personal values, there is usually a story. Unfortunately, most stories are sad.
Why People Choose
Ask someone why they choose a retirement savings plan. You will hear stories of wanting freedom in retirement, to travel, to see the world, to enjoy grandkids, etc. They are not sad stories. They are stories the come from caring about family and loved ones. They also want financial independence.
Ask someone why they suddenly embarked on a nutrition and exercise program. You will hear stories of wanting to be better, to live longer, to be around for their families, to have their health. These are not sad stories either. They come from wanting a better quality of life, now and in the future.
Safety Stories Aren't Usually Happy
The stories that get related in safety aren’t typically happy stories. Safety has become a reactionary choice based on a near-miss or a tragedy to themselves or someone else. That positions safety as something that is chosen only after facing a life-changing incident. That’s terrible marketing for safety. It’s no wonder that people have a hard time buying-in to safety when it is presented as the default choice made after a gut-wrenching incident.
Employees may know logically that safety is the right choice. But, it is the story of why you choose safety that is more compelling to others. This is especially true if your co-workers can see the benefit of choosing safety. More so if it's without having to endure a gruesome incident or near-miss.
My Safety Story
My wife and I first met in Grade 4 when we were 9 years old. We went to the same schools, hung out with the same friends, went to the same church and had the same teachers. I even took her on a date when I was 15 but never asked for a second date because I thought she said yes to be nice (I was dating way over my head).
At age 18, we went our separate ways; her to university and me into broadcasting 2000 miles away in western Canada. We never heard from each other again - until the 30th Anniversary High School reunion. She looked like she’d aged a week. I still had a mad crush. She thought I cleaned up pretty well too. We were married a short time later as we were both single then.
She said to me one day, “Y’know, it’s taken over 30 years for us to find each other. I want you around a long, long time.”
That’s just about the best reason to embrace safety - because someone wants you around a long time. It is not a request that is fear-based. There are no ominous overtones. There is no gruesomeness, no implied threats, no gore. There is simply heartfelt appreciation.
Uplifting, Positive Stories Beat Sad Stories
Stories inspire. Stories are easier to remember than the logic of why safety makes sense. Uplifting stories affect people at the heart level instead of the brain level. Sad stories just make people feel awful. Connect with someone at the heart level and you can inspire them to be something more.
Courtney E. Martin is an author and speaker. Her career is united by two obsessions: storytelling and solutions. She suggests that instead of simply passing on information, do it through a story. “Stories are how we process information,” she says. “They’re how we get excited about things.”
Through positive stories, you can illustrate good decisions and build confidence in others to do the same. Safety should empower people to make confident decisions - not to scare them to avoid making poor choices.
No one ever was scared into making monthly contributions to their retirement plan. Fear isn’t what makes people go to the gym. No, those decisions come from people wanting to take control of their lives and their results. Personal leadership is what people display when they make good decisions for themselves.
Empower yourself to make confident decisions that are in line with your long-term goals. To be healthy, happy, energetic and financially comfortable in the future, choose safety. The only way to get to a high quality of life in the future is by choosing safety in the present.
Make a good decision for yourself. Then, tell your happy story of why you choose safety.
Kevin Burns is a management consultant, safety speaker and author of "The Perfect Safety Meeting." Kevin Burns is an expert in how to get through to people - how to talk with them so they hear and understand. Kevin's presentation "Trust The Process - Instill A Safety Attitude To Build An Engaged Culture Of Safety" will help your organization reach the following goals: better engagement and buy-in to safety, increased teamwork, better communication, lower turnover resulting in increased profits from production.Click here for more information and to discuss your needs with Kevin.