Encouraging Positive Safety Behaviours

We look at ways in which employees can be encouraged to comply with safety rules

Changing perspectives

We all know that positive reinforcement works more effectively than negative reinforcement. But when it comes to safety, it is the infringement that gets noticed.

Hired to do it right

No manager ever hired a new worker with the expectation that that person would deliberately do a bad job or work in an unsafe way.

Unfortunately, many managers do not see the person who does a good job, they only notice the things that have gone wrong.

Research by Abeceder identified that the average manager is spending up to sixty per-cent of their working week dealing with employee related problems

It is easy to notice when something goes wrong, but it is much harder to notice good activities.

Despite managers wanting to encourage good work practices and excellent performance, it still takes a special effort to notice the good worker quietly getting on with it, when there are so many problems to be dealt with.

Slow to praise

A manager who is comfortable looking for the good stuff and openly praising their employees is a rare commodity.

Sometimes it can seem that the main role of a manager is to be critical of the people they are supposed to lead.

Yet the Abeceder research also identified that managers and team leaders, who report they are unable to influence or change employee behaviour are also those whose employees report that their managers are slow to praise.

Perhaps says Abeceder if a manager wants to change the behaviour of their employees should first look to see how they might need to change their own habits.

For feedback to work the way in which that feedback is provided has to be consistent and a noticeable habit of the manager.

Making compliments habitual

Sometimes it can feel as though the modern way of living wants us to look for the negative. Switching on the positive gene when we are at work can feel a bit out of place.

The solution is to look for the positive in every aspect of our lives, whether that is with family, friends or the people who serve us in shops and restaurants, or even with the driver who cuts in front of us at the junction.

Good for them – good for you

A simple thank you can brighten anyone’s day. So long as it is delivered with sincerity for something that the recipient knows is worthy of appreciation.

  • The important thing with any expression of gratitude is that it sounds and feels both natural and sincere.
  • There is evidence that the social capital and goodwill that an expression of gratitude creates is something that both people benefit from.
  • The recipient knows that they are valued, and the appreciator knows that they have had a positive impact on someone else.

Counting your blessings is considered a good way to notice the positive aspects of life and can have a positive impact on mental health for all concerned.

Explain your gratitude

There are two things that devalue an expression of gratitude, the recipient

  • Knows that they don’t deserve to be thanked
  • Doesn’t know why they have been thanked

Only thank people when they really deserve it

Always explain a compliment

 “I really like the way you organise this work area; it is always clean and tidy; it is an example to other people.”

The inclusion of an explanation ensures that your expression of gratitude comes across as sincere

Praise works 

Praise works for at least three reasons

  • People like to be appreciated and when it happens, they try to create other opportunities to be appreciated.
  • When you appreciate other people you increase the goodwill that those people feel towards you
  • When you thank someone you increase your influence with them and they are more likely to do what you want them to in the future.

“Give me a lever long enough . . . and single-handed I can move the world.”

There are examples throughout history of leaders using praise as a lever to get people to do what they want.

Praise has been used to move small groups, villages, cities and whole nations to undertake a course of action.

“Hunger for applause is the source of all conscious heroism,” Napoleon 

It is almost as if we are helpless in the face of praise.

Robert Cialdini, author of Influence, the Psychology of Persuasion observed that if you position a request in the context of praise you are more likely to get a positive reaction:

Tell someone that you have given them a tough assignment because you know they can do it and they will walk fifty miles through a snowstorm to prove you right!

The Value of a Compliment

How valuable are compliments?

Charles Schwab was probably the first person in history to earn a salary of a million dollars a year.

He believed that Andrew Carnegie paid him this salary largely because of his ability to deal with people.

He explained, “”I never criticize anyone . . . if I like anything, I am hearty in my approbation and lavish in my praise.””

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