This is how you motivate colleagues to work safely

Responding to intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

Do you recognize this? You really want to go for a walk every day. Better for your health and it feels good. Still, it fails. More often than not, you do not go. While you know best that you should do this. If it is already so difficult to motivate yourself, how do you motivate your employees to work safely and responsibly?

How motivated are your colleagues?

How do you get your colleagues to exhibit safe behavior of their own accord? How do you prevent them from only wanting a checkmark for a certificate? How do you ensure that staff in a new workplace see the risks for themselves?

To answer those questions, you need to know what motivation actually is. Do you want to work safely? Then it is not always about the amount of motivation someone has; quality also plays a role. But what does that mean?

Real-life example: firefighting

Imagine this: you give 2 people information about firefighting. Person 1 studies every fact. He knows exactly which fire extinguisher to use for specific types of fires. If he is given a test, he passes and goes back to work. Person 2 looks at firefighting in a conceptual way. He asks himself the following questions:

  • What causes a fire?
  • Which materials catch fire quickly?
  • What components are needed for fire?
  • What should I do if a fire breaks out in the room where I am now?
  • Which fire extinguisher is needed?
  • What other fire extinguishers are there?

The question now is: Who ultimately works the safest? Person 1 or person 2? Person 2, of course! It is not that he is more or less motivated than person 1. No, he works the safest because his motivation is of a different quality. Person 1 is extrinsically motivated: he must pass the test. Person 2 is intrinsically motivated: he wants to know how to work safely. This is the basis of self-determination theory.

    Responding to intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

    Employees who are extrinsically motivated are motivated by rewards, punishments and shame. Employees who are intrinsically motivated work safely on their own. They understand why they need to work safely. They also work safely when they move into a new workplace or department, for example, or when they are doing chores at home.

    Intrinsically motivated employees find working safely so important that it has become part of their system. For example, they derive happiness from participating in safety programs. And they do all this voluntarily.


    From extrinsic to intrinsic motivation

    How do you get colleagues who are extrinsically motivated to work safely to being intrinsically motivated? You do this by responding to 3 basic psychological needs:

    • Connection
    • Autonomy
    • Competence

    How do you do that in practice?


    Responding to the need for connectedness

    Toolbox meetings

    Most companies do organize toolbox meetings. But are these also informal and interactive? Engage with each other about safety. At eWorks, we have about 70 ready-to-use toolboxes that help you have the conversation together.

    Giving compliments

    Do employees regularly receive compliments when they work safely? Then they will actually start working more safely. This may sound very simple, but unfortunately it happens too little in practice. You can give compliments in many ways. We recommend putting someone in the spotlight at the beginning of a toolbox meeting. That way, you will certainly not forget!

    Responding to the need for autonomy

    By giving freedom of choice, you reinforce autonomy. You can apply this in hundreds of ways. For example, when it comes to toolbox meetings, you could present the following choices:

    • What do you want the next toolbox to be about?
    • What is a nice approach for you?
    • What time for a toolbox meeting suits you best?

    Note that unlimited freedom of choice is actually paralyzing. It is therefore wise to limit the number of choices, for example: Do we want a toolbox meeting Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. or Friday during lunch?

    Strengthening competencies

    You can strengthen competencies by carefully handling incident reports. Follow up actively. This can easily be done with our DareToCare app. It allows your colleagues to make incident reports from their phones.

    A big advantage of the app is that it can instantly convert an incident report into a push notification to all employees. Is there a dangerous situation? Then all employees throughout the organization are immediately informed. This way, the employee who made the report feels that his report counts. He feels appreciated. Combine this with giving a compliment.


    Check out our webinar!

    Want to know more about this topic? Check out our webinar!