How do we motivate the worker to be safe? No one has the magic key to understanding all people —and hence to knowing how to manipulate them to want to do what needs to be done. All we can do is attempt to gain some insights. We will look at some influences that help to create employee attitudes —both those influences which we can consciously apply, and those over which we have little or no control. These influences help to mold and shape the employee’s decision on how he will work. He himself makes this decision; we, in management cannot. Oftentimes, however, management’s definition of policy influences the employee in making the decision.
Let us imagine a factory worker named Elmer, who slaves over a hot machine all day to produce 275 Super Speed Fishing Worm Untanglers, size 4. One day management hands out booklets telling Elmer and his fellow workers how they can produce 300 untanglers instead of 275.
Nobody in his right mind enjoys making fishing worm untanglers. So Elmer hastily skims through the booklet, throws it away, and keeps right on turning out 275 a day.
Management then sends down an order warning that any employee who
fails to produce 300 untanglers a day will be dismissed. Elmer is now powerfully motivated. He finds that the booklet is interesting reading after all, and he learns everything in it with remarkable ease.
This is more typical of the way management motivates its employees to do what it wants in production, cost control, and quality control than it is in accident prevention.
In these other areas, management does not seem to worry as much about motivation. It decides what it wants done, and then it makes sure it is done.
In safety, we seem to be more concerned with motivation. We decide what we want, and then we use contests, posters, meetings, and special campaigns to persuade the employees that they ought to do it.
How does management get other things that it wants —production, for instance?
When management officials decide they want a certain level of production, they:
– Tell what they want. They communicate.
– Say to someone: “You do it.” They assign responsibility.
– Say: “You have my permission to do whatever is necessary to get the job done.” They grant authority.
– Say: “I’ll measure you to see if you are doing it.” They fix accountability.
We can use some of these principles on safety also. This does not mean, however, that we can merely force employees to work safely. But we can set a stage where it is easier for them to decide to work safely.
Management, through its policy, makes the decision that safe performance from employees is desirable. Management cannot, however, force a safe performance. Each employee decides for himself whether or not he will work, how hard he will work, and how safely he will work. His attitudes shape his decision — attitudes toward himself, his environment, his boss, his company, his entire situation. His decision is based on his knowledge, his skills, and his group’s attitude toward the problem.