How to Motivate Your Warehouse Workers to Put Safety First

When you talk about warehouse safety and its importance, do your employees really hear,”Oh. The company really just wants to save itself money. They don’t care about us.”

While it’s true your company does save money because of fewer worker injuries, it’s important to understand that ultimately, people act according to what they judge is in their best interest.

While you can’t control what your employees do or don’t do, you can create the right workplace conditions that motivate them to put safety first.

And here’s how you might do that:

1. Use Positive Mechanisms to Reinforce Desirable Behavior

Psychological studies have proven time and again that positive reinforcement (versus a punishment) shapes behavior far more effectively.

It’s a commonly accepted fact. There’s no dispute about it.

Just read this post at Psychology Today to learn more about it.

Practically, this means you’re better off giving your employees additional time off for safety goals achieved versus punishing them for making mistakes.

For the best results, discuss the areas of safety where you want to see improvement with your employees, and ask them what kind of reward would motivate them most.

When you include them in this process, that gets you much more buy-in and better results.

2. However You Address Safety, Be Consistent

People will do whatever is consistently presented to them. It’s one of the fundamentals of advertising.

And people will even do and believe things which are not good for them at all if those things are presented and reinforced consistently.

Remember how socially acceptable smoking used to be?

It’s just the way the human mind works.

So whatever you do, be consistent. Don’t hold a single meeting and then never discuss the issue again.

Hold a meeting. Then hold one again to reinforce the issue. Put signs around your building. Include the same messaging in a weekly email.

Keep the same message everywhere, and it will sink in and make a difference with your warehouse’s safety.

3. Quickly Address Employees Who Just Don’t Care

You can’t control what your employees do. That also means you can’t make them care about safety.

So if you’ve worked hard at the first two points to create a warehouse environment ripe for safety improvement, but you still have some employees who won’t go along, quickly address the issue.

Create your paper trail and make it clear you’re getting ready to fire them. Sometimes, employees who refuse to care need sufficient pain and distress to motivate them.

And if they don’t change their behavior, well then you can replace them with someone who values safety!

Again, this is your option of last resort. Begin with positive reinforcement and consistent messaging first.

It takes time to create a far safer warehouse than before. But if you dedicate the time and effort and keep at it, you will see astounding results!