Safety messaging often involves “or else” statements, such as “wear your safety glasses or else you’ll get something in your eye.” However, the power of positive reinforcement and feedback from management is more effective in motivating safety behaviors.
Research shows that when management provides positive reinforcement when a worker performs a safe action, the behavior will be repeated with increased frequency. Giving verbal praise to workers who perform well helps demonstrate that management is observant of their successes and is one of the most effective ways to improve morale and productivity while achieving safe outcomes. Workers who feel validated and recognized for their accomplishments are more likely to help coworkers proactively and spread a sense of belonging and camaraderie.
Simply put, the best way to achieve a positive workplace is by recognizing the excellence of the staff. Thanking workers for quickly cleaning up a spill is more impactful on their mood and desire to proactively address safety concerns than any amount of policy or rulemaking.
Most workers report they rarely, if ever, experience positive reinforcement at work. However, providing a healthy and happy workplace can be an effective way to improve outcomes. And when workers see management demonstrate safe practices, it reinforces an attitude of safe behaviors as well.
Rick Means, Director of Safety and Education, is available to help members with safety. Contact Rick at 360-943-9198, Ext. 118 or [email protected].