An exclusive survey recently revealed what many safety pros have known since leading their first training session: The things that motivate frontline workers to buy in to safety procedures are different than what drives supervisors to pay attention to safety.
In a recent survey for Safety News Alert, we asked safety managers which training technique they found most effective for increasing safety buy-in among frontline employees and supervisors.
In short, employees want personal stories and anecdotes, while supervisors are more focused on regulations and compliance.
When it comes to getting employees on board with safety, more than a third of respondents said sharing personal stories was the best way to increase buy-in. Take a look at the full results below:
Which technique do you find most effective for increasing employee buy-in?
- Showing pictures — 18%
- Sharing personal accounts — 39%
- Statistics — 2%
- Reviewing OSHA rules and compliance — 12%
- Reviewing workplace policy and discipline — 17%
- Other — 12%
Respondents were given the option of selecting “other” in addition to the choices provided. Many of the write-in responses were essentially “all of the above,” but some answers were quite revealing. Here are some of the other employee training strategies respondents offered:
- Making the program interactive
- Company safety newsletter, and
- PowerPoint presentations and quizzes.
Many respondents also wrote in saying that videos are a particularly successful strategy for boosting employee buy-in for safety.
Supervisors and managers, on the other hand, were more concerned with rules and statistics. Check out their responses:
Which technique do you find most effective for increasing supervisor buy-in?
- Showing pictures — 5%
- Sharing personal accounts — 18%
- Statistics — 20%
- Review OSHA rules and compliance — 19%
- Reviewing workplace policy and discipline — 29%
- Other — 9%
Some of the “other” responses provided for motivating supervisors:
- Pointing out their liability/accountability
- Trying to get them to see workers’ point of view, and
- Showing the effect on the bottom line.
Unfortunately, some safety pros wrote in that no matter what they tried, supervisors would not buy in to safety program details. They were too focused on productivity.
Focusing on your audience
The results of the survey aren’t actually all that startling — it only makes sense that frontline employees and supervisors are motivated by different things when it comes to safety on the job. In fact, many of the write-in responses for boosting supervsior buy-in said the strategies are the same for employees and supervisors.
But the survey is a good reminder to keep your audience in mind. Supervisors are more likely to respond to rules and regulations, whether internal safety procedures or OSHA standards. That’s in large part because supervisors and managers are increasingly facing criminal charges for safety shortcomings.
Frontline employees, on the other hand, want personal stories or real-life lessons learned from others in similar situations. Whenever possible, provide a narrative for why the safety rules your company puts in place are so important.