Many employees can quickly tune out when they hear bland, irrelevant safety messages. Too often, they’ve heard boring safety communication that demands compliance. What’s often missing in most safety communication is the human element.
To get people to listen, it helps to know the psychology behind why people tune out to some information. Here are 7 safety communication techniques that will help you to get your team members to pay attention:
1. It’s not personal – Self-interest is one of the biggest human motivators of all time. Tap into this by getting into the mindset of your target audience. While writing, keep asking yourself all the time: “So what? What’s in it for me?” Let people know how the new safety information will help them. Don’t assume they will know. Give them a “why.”
2. It’s not interesting – Our brains have been designed to stop information overload, by constantly scanning the horizon for items that are different than normal. Anything unusual or unpredictable causes us to stop and listen. Ask yourself “What can I use in this information that people won’t expect?”
3. They’ve heard it before – Three of the most dangerous words in the human language are “I know that.” These words almost guarantee that the brain will shutdown and block any new information. Avoid this by asking people questions about what they do not know (but think they do).
4. They’re preoccupied – Everyday we are bombarded with around 150 – 5,000 advertising messages. And then there are messages from home that you have to battle with such as family issues, social networking sites, and money problems. Never assume people will listen to you, when their heads are filled with so many other things to deal with.
5. They haven’t seen it – In advertising, marketers recognize that people need to be exposed to a television ad 4-7 times before they will absorb the message. This is why frequency of message equals success in advertising.
To ensure that your workers remember your safety message, you need to get into their head – a lot. This means planning on placing messages in multiple places (such as posters, screensavers, email newsletters, toolbox talks etc) to ensure exposure to your safety communication around 4-7 times minimum.
6. They don’t understand you – As humans, we have a tendency to provide people with lots of information. But that literally hurts the brain. Essentially, you need to focus on one clear message and remove redundant information. Supply just enough information to grab attention and then provide a little more and then, a little more.
7. They don’t know what to do – Any safety communication is all about getting people to think about a safety issue, in order to make changes to their behavior. Getting the viewer to act and expend some sort of energy on the message is crucial. Always end with a call to action that makes it clear what you want people to do.
Being able to create clear, easy to understand and attention grabbing safety communication is a vital skill for any Ted Berry Company Inc leader. It’s also important that communication is easy for everyone to remember and motivates workers to change how they think and act, when it comes to safety. (for more please read Marie-Claire Ross)
Matt Timberlake – Vice President