The most common reaction people have when referring to rules, regulations, and compliance is a general sense of frustration and negativity.
Safety-conscious, employee-centered cultures mean employees think and act with the safety of their co-workers first. To achieve that culture, companies need to enact positive reinforcement.
What is positive reinforcement?
Using positive reinforcement means encouraging behavior to be repeated by giving a stimulus or a reward after the behavior is performed. As an example, a supervisor sees an employee not wearing sound-absorbing hearing protection. Instead of immediately providing disciplinary action for violating safety protocols, the supervisor talks to that employee about why the safety rule is important and why they have it in place.
Adopt a positive reinforcement workplace attitude
Positive reinforcement has been proven to have longer-lasting effects. Otherwise, if a supervisor decides to take disciplinary action such as a write-up or a suspension, it may take longer to do so than positive reinforcing behavior.
In the example above, an initial conversation about the importance of wearing hearing protection consistently has now opened the door for the supervisor to provide positive feedback to the employee who has adapted his/her behavior accordingly. This allows the supervisor and employee to have interactions that reinforce good behavior and encourage a trust-based relationship between the two rather than an adversarial relationship.
Safety recognition does not need to come in the form of trophies or rewards. The simple act of thanking someone for a positive behavior is not only likely to encourage an individual to continue his or her behavior but can also influence the behavior of others, as well.
Improve Safety Culture in the Workplace
A culture of safety can be built by achieving these milestones. Businesses are finding that rewarding and recognizing good behavior is the best way to foster a culture of safety. As a result, there are fewer accidents and injuries.
Acknowledge unsafe behavior, provide education on proper safety, and then observe the positive actions increase throughout your workplace.