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Techniques for Motivation – Dear Mom, I’m sorry…

- September 24, 2019 by Leslie Stoll, CSP, ARM (View all posts by Leslie)

How do you motivate people to work safely? Sometimes people don’t care about their health and well-being, and the outcome of avoiding an injury does not motivate them. Even the loss of a steady paycheck doesn’t motivate everyone. But one company, who was having trouble getting employees to wear their safety glasses, decided to get creative. They decided to tug at the emotional heartstrings of their workforce.

When someone is caught not wearing their glasses, they are asked to write a letter to their mother, spouse, or child apologizing for choosing not to work safely and listing some of the things they would miss out on if an accident were to happen. The letter is kept on file – “In Case of Emergency.” Does the letter ever get sent? Probably not. It is the act of writing it that the company is banking on to motivate the worker. It seems to me this would be much more effective than watching another safety video. The company hopes that the letter-writing process will create an emotional experience for that worker to help them realize that their actions impact others.

Do you not think sitting people down to write a letter is going to work for your employee culture? What about using this idea as a safety meeting topic. At your next meeting, before you officially start the session, start conversations casually with employees asking what they are going to do on their days off. Make mental notes of their comments. Then take those activities mentioned and ask the employees if they would have just as much success and enjoyment doing that activity without a hand, missing an eye, or while in a wheelchair.

Before you rule out the letter writing tactic, I encourage you to try it a few times. You may get some silent protesting and eye-rolling, but the act of writing down the consequences can be impactful. We’ve all heard the importance of writing down our goals. Studies suggest that if you don’t write down your goals, you won’t be successful. The same concept applies here, by putting pen to paper, the employees’ minds will think more profoundly on the subject.

Do you think this tactic is effective? We would love to hear any opinions or variations on the idea.