Using the Power of Groups to Build Habits

A group of employees work together to improve their safety habits

This post is from Gary A. Higbee, one of SafeStart’s senior consultants and the co-author of Inside Out. Learn more about Gary’s many accomplishments in the safety industry and find a selection of his many articles at safestart.com/gary.

A big part of getting better at safety is working on habits. But often people have a difficult time picking a habit to work on or having the discipline to actually work on getting better, even if they know the activity will help them compensate for complacency.  

Here’s a tip that has worked very well for some of our clients.  Gather your employees in small groups of 4-6 people (though you can go as large as a dozen employees per group if necessary). Ask each group to pick a habit that they all work on at the same time. These habits should be something practical and straightforward. Feel free to suggest some of the following:

  1. Always use a handrail
  2. Backing your car into parking spaces
  3. Look closely before putting your hand into something on onto something

If you’re stuck on habit ideas, the SafeStart workbooks have plenty of suggestions and you can also review our free safety guides for inspiration.

The goal is for employees to help each other get better at the habit they pick.  Working as a team can be an effective and rewarding way to approach working on habits. The team develops some accountability and can have fun at the same time.

Successes and struggles in building the new habit can be discussed at all the team meetings, which will give employees the opportunity to celebrate when things are going well and provide support for challenging situations. Once the team has improved in one area they can select another.

Building safety habits in small groups is a great way to bring together personal safety interests and the power of organizational safety. If you’re a safety trainer or supervisor you should feel free to participate in this group exercise. It will show that you “walk the talk” and that you take your role as a safety leader seriously.