Safety Compliments

 In 2022, Tip of the Week

According to the National Day Calendar today, January 24, 2022, is National Compliment Day. It’s also Beer Can Appreciation Day, but we’ll save that for another safety tip. Compliments, on the other hand, are something we can relate to safety.

How can we relate a compliment to safety? For those of us in California, it’s more than a concept, it is a regulatory requirement. The Injury and Illness Prevention Program regulation, 8 CCR §3203(a) begins by requiring that “…every employer shall establish, implement, and maintain an effective Injury and Illness Prevention Program (Program). The Program shall be in writing and, shall, at a minimum: … (2) Include a system for ensuring that employees comply with safe and healthy work practices. Substantial compliance with this provision includes recognition of employees who follow safe and healthful work practices….” (emphasis added) While this is specific to California employers, recognition of employees for safe work practices should be universal and at SCM, we think it worthwhile to mention in a safety tip.

The February 24, 2021, edition of the Harvard Business Review presented a summary of research on the effects of compliments. The article asserted that “Gratitude makes people feel valued, and positive feedbackhas been shown to mitigate the negative effects of stress on employee performance.”

Some employers recognize safe work performances in other ways, like, for example, bringing in pizzas for lunch after a certain number of days without an accident at the jobsite. But SCM believes that we should approach this carefully, as doing something like this may backfire on them. It may encourage under-reporting of accidents and incidents. Who wants to report an accident and lose out on free pizza? Few people would want to do that.

The article goes on to point out that research shows that the brain processes a simple compliment as much as financial gains. While pizza parties are nice, recognition of employees does not necessarily need to be costly. A pat on the back or a kind word will go far.

How a compliment is delivered should also be a consideration. Not every employee wants public recognition. Some people love the limelight and for them, being recognized at a team meeting would be good. Others may be introverts or shy. Public recognition would be painful for these people. A smile, a nod, or a pat on the back in private would be the appropriate way to recognize them.

One last consideration on giving out compliments. You can’t observe safe work practices on a jobsite if you, the employer, are not there. You don’t have to spend days on a worksite, but an occasional visit is a witness that you care about the work going on and how it is getting done, even if only for a brief period. Employers demonstrate their concern and appreciation of their employees by seeing the employees on the job. Deliver the compliments in person. It will go far in showing your employees that you care and just may improve morale.

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