Dangerous substances, heavy tools or other risky situations can occur regularly in certain jobs. And if that is the case, it's very important to put the safety of all employees first. That's why many companies have safety programs in place: A set of rules that needs to be followed by everybody at the location at all times. But to guarantee the safety of such a program, it's necessary that all employees know about it. How do you achieve that? And how can you make sure that all employees follow new safety rules, even if they don't think new rules are necessary in the first place?
The answer to that question sounds pretty simple: Internal communication! It doesn't matter if you want to remind employees of existing safety guidelines or if you want to introduce a new safety program, internal communication is crucial if you want to make sure they actually follow the rules. If you think 'well, I'll just send them an email then', we have to disappoint you, though. If you want them to do something with the information you are sharing, that's simply not enough. It's not engaging, and it's not relevant. And even worse: Depending on your target audience, they might not even read it. Not because they are ignoring your email, but maybe they don't even check their emails daily. But without email communication, how can you actually make sure they follow your new safety guidelines on the long term?
Communicating a new safety program: Know your target audience
With your new safety guidelines all ready to go, you'd probably want to start communicating straight away. But wait a minute! How about having a close look at your target audience first? Who are the people you want to reach and to follow the new guidelines? What are they dealing with on a daily basis and is the program actually relevant to them? And last but not least: How are they spending their days? If they are on the road every day, emails might just not be the right way to reach them. The more information you have on your primary target audience, the easier it is to find an effective internal communication strategy!
Maybe, you have more than one target audience in your company. In that case, it's important to get to know the differences between the target audiences. They probably have different needs for information or a different level of knowledge about the topic. To some of them, the new safety guidelines might be super important, while others don't really care because they don't apply to their daily work. Make sure you learn more about the needs of your target audiences: What information do they need to apply the rules themselves or to, let's say, pass them on to visitors that come visit the site where the rules apply?
Have a look at how we helped Heijmans to introduce their new safety program!
Start with why
We have mentioned this a couple of times before, but we can't repeat it often enough: Always start with why when communicating change. Obviously, that's also very true when communicating a new safety program. Why are the new guidelines relevant to your target audience?
By explaining why something is relevant first, you actually increase the chances of people following the new rules. At the same time, you also minimize the chances of employees neglecting or even resisting your rules. Because, as with every change within an organization, it is very well possible that there are some people who are not waiting for new rules that make everything more complicated. After all, they have been working with those dangerous substances or risky situations or heavy tools for years, and they know how to handle it, don't they? New guidelines made by somebody who spends most of their days working in an office isn't necessarily something they are happy about. But by starting with explaining why the new guidelines are relevant, you take away their arguments. There might always be some employees who are not extremely supportive and who don't approve the new rules, but make sure to do what you can to minimize that percentage.
Make an appropriate media selection
After you have thought of a way to make the topic relevant to your internal target audience, it's time to have a look at how to reach them. We've talked about the email thing before: Not everybody does check their emails daily, so it might not be the ideal way to communicate new safety guidelines. Therefore, it's crucial to get to know your target audience even better and have a look at how you can reach them best.
Just to give you a few examples: You don't need to send out an email to remind people of certain rules. You could also work with a poster next to the coffeemachine. They get coffee at least once a day, so technically, there is no better way to remind them regularly! And the more often you remind your target audience of the new safety guidelines, the easier it's for them to change their habits and start using the new guidelines.
Sometimes, it might be necessary that your colleagues in the office also know about the new safety guidelines. Maybe, they need to brief everybody who is visiting the site about it. In that case, make sure to have a look at what they need. And we're not only talking about the information they need, but also about the media that might help them communicate safety guidelines. If you want to inform every visitor about the rules ahead of their visit, for example, it might be a good idea to make an animation that explains certain risky situations and how to deal with them or avoid them. Your colleagues at the office could simply send a link to the animation to all visitors or show it on a tablet while they are waiting. And if there are different guidelines in different situations? Think about if it's more practical to have one longer animation or if you rather need several media, depending on the situation. Again, the more relevant you can make the message for your target audience, the higher the chances they will follow the guidelines!
Want to communicate new safety guidelines in a universal and language-independent way? Have a look at what we did for AOC!
Introducing new safety guidelines (and make everybody follow them) is not always easy. But a good internal communication plan definitely helps to make your employees understand why it's relevant they follow the rules at all times. Curious in how we'd deal with such a situation? Check out our case studies!
Do you want to introduce a new safety program or to remind your employees of the existing guidelines? We're happy to help! Get in touch so we can create an internal communication strategy to reach your internal target audience!
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