Using humor to improve engagement

Every company should be working to improve safety on the jobsite. However, just providing more training and proper personal protective equipment is not enough. So how do you improve culture in unconventional ways? Improving safety culture is all about getting workers to think on their own, identify risks, and make good decisions. Training is the first step but it doesn’t always take if you approach it in the traditional way. Let’s take a look at some different ways to make that information stick.

Everyone will agree that safety training is not the most exciting topic. Often times employees feel that safety training is not engaging and repetitive. Employees also think that many of the topics are common sense and too serious. That’s why integrating some humor into your safety training can improve engagement and participation. It must be done the right way, though. Tim Page-Bottorffs, presenter of popular conference session Humor in Safety, points out there are a few goals for integrating humor:

  • create more interactivity, leading to active learning
  • make training concepts more memorable
  • increase engagement with safety ideas in a group atmosphere
  • encourage greater knowledge retention among employees

The goal is not to make safety training funny for its own sake but rather to become a better storyteller, making the information more memorable and more impactful. Integrating personal stories into your training is one of the best ways to connect with the audience. It opens the door for students to share their own stories and incidents related to safety. Overall, it is about providing impactful training that will be meaningful to the employees.

No reward is too small

Encouraging employees to act safely might seem like something you shouldn’t need to do, but habits take time to form. Most of us remember a time when we were trying to teach our children a lesson or our parents tried to teach us a lesson by offering some sort of reward. Not surprisingly, this still works with most adults. What is surprising, is that we react to almost the same rewards we did when we were kids. Small rewards such as candy bars, hats, or trips to the “toy store,” aka Home Depot when you’re an adult, are great ways to reinforce good behavior. Several safety managers we know often hand out $10 gift cards to grocery stores or Home Depot as rewards.

If you want to get the most out of a reward, give it to the recipient at a stand-down while the whole jobsite is present. This way the employee gets the recognition of the reward as well as the praise of fellow employees. These rewards can have a huge impact, as most of us are just as competitive if not more than we were as kids. Reinforcing good behavior will help build good safety habits. Not everything we do as safety managers has to be so serious. We can be interesting and provide good news to workers on the jobsite to help build the safety culture we strive for. Using some of the tips above can greatly help improve how your lessons are received and absorbed by workers on the jobsite.

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