If you want your people to care, do and say the things that matter to them.
Why won't people just follow the safety rules? Why don't they speak up at meetings or take the paperwork seriously? Tough questions to ask if you’re a supervisor or safety person trying to get their people to care about safety. But, here's the good news: you can make people care about safety.
Truth is that your people already do care about safety. They care about the safety of their families. They care about the safety of their co-workers. They especially care about themselves not getting hurt.
What they don't care about
What they don't care about is when they’re made to feel small when they’re being scolded on safety rules. They don't care about violent and gory injury photos downloaded from the Internet. They don't care about how important you think the paperwork is. They don't care about being followed around waiting for them to mess up. They don't care about stats and graphs that only the safety manager understands. They don't care about you, with your back turned, reading your safety meeting speech word for word from a PowerPoint slide at about one third of the speed they can read it.
None of it makes them care more. None of it inspires better safety performance. It barely inspires staying awake.
The real goal of the safety program
So, what’s the goal of the safety program anyway? To hit a number or to ensure that everyone has their heads in the game, that they work together, trust each other and look out for each other? Which one? Numbers or trust and caring?
Maybe you think that they all happen together. But they don’t. You can be ruthless in enforcing rules, and get decent safety performance, but not have any trust or caring.
Y’see, when trust and caring come first, your numbers are going to fall into line anyway. Paperwork gets done properly. People start speaking up in meetings. People start to care about safety.
If you want people to care
If you want your people to care, do and say the things that matter to them. Connect with your people on the things they care about. Make safety all about them. Take an active interest in what your people want and show them that they matter to you. Build trust, teamwork and caring. Safety performance follows.
Yes, you can make people care about safety.
Kevin Burns is a management consultant, safety speaker and author of "PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety." He is an expert in how to engage people in safety and believes that the best place to work is always the safest place to work. Kevin helps organizations align their people, leadership. communication and safety in order to improve performance and culture.