Bringing emotional connections to health and safety.

Go to any construction site and you’ll see dozens of messages about health and safety all around you.

The first time you arrive, all these images of helmets, lightning bolts and skull and crossbones definitely grab your attention, no doubt.

But work next to them all day. And the next day. And the next. Sometimes for months at a time…

And before you know it, you’re desensitized. The signs have lost their impact, and you’re no longer thinking about all the ways you’re in danger on a site filled with heavy machinery. And that’s when accidents start to happen.

“We all know the rules and routines, but sometimes shortcuts are still taken when our safety precautions slip from people’s minds.” – Skanska employee

The big question

How could we keep health and safety at the front of Skanska construction workers’ minds even when they’ve become desensitised to the dozens of health and safety messages they see each day?
Surprising daughter and friend Evelyn
Surprising grandpa Magne
Surprising daddy Josef

Film series production

Come home safe

First we created a series of films. In each one, a Skanska employee would be hard at work on a construction site, and then they’d get the shock of their lives. In walks their child, their partner, or parent – someone that worker loves the very most in the world.

That person would then deliver a clear message:
‘Please, if not for you then for me: come home safe.’

Seeing what their safety meant to someone they love, the tears would flow within moments and both people would embrace – sharing a hugely emotional moment with each other.

Once they’d broken away, the family member would then give the employee a sticker to place on their hard hat as a memory of this moment – a photo of themselves beside the message ‘come home in one piece!’

Videos of these moment spread quickly throughout the organisation. And with so many people inspired by the stories we created an online store where people could create their own hard-hat stickers.

People would upload a photo of their loved ones to the site, and the store would print out a personalised sticker for them to show off to their co-workers.

“The element of surprise and genuine emotions was an incredibly effective way of getting our message across.

This is the first time we have managed to turn safety into a true conversation piece among all our employees, and we got lots of feedback from people who were astonished by the stories.”

Designed poster series

Why it worked

Messengers

We engage most with information from people we respect, people who’re like us, and most of all, the people we love.

The videos made a huge impact on the workers they featured, and since other employees could see themselves in the people depicted they massively resonated with the workers who watched them.

The message from the CEO just hammered the point home yet further.

Availability bias

We tend to remember experiences that are very emotive, and it means they’re much easier to recall later in similar environments later on.

By creating these workplace memories, we were able to make each safety message far easier for Skanska’s workers to recall when it counted most – when they were using dangerous machinery at work.

Timing

Our intervention reached people at the exact moments that mattered – when people put on their helmets to start work each day, and when they look at each other while operating machinery on construction sites.

Seeing stickers of each others loved ones, workers would be reminded of why it’s so important they keep themselves safe from harm exactly when it counted.

The IKEA effect

We tend to value and remember ideas that we’ve played a part in creating.

More than 1,000 employees ordered their own personalised stickers, and since they had a role in creating them via our online shop, the safety messages they conveyed were more highly valued by each employee.

The results

92
of respondents said they liked the videos.
100
of respondents liked the campaign slogan.

We could have tried to change attitudes first, but the benefit of working with behaviour is that behaviour can be observed, guided and measured.

The big opportunity now is to go further with behaviour change, turning more of this abstract theory into greater lifesaving practice.

- Peer Christian Anderssen, Head of HSE at Skanska Norway