Being a safety manager is more than just knowing the regulations and auditing compliance.  A lot of the job is Sales – YES– Sales. How to improve employee engagement in safety is a top question when creating a safety culture.  The way you do that is Sales.

You may call yourself a Safety Sales Manager?

When you shift your mindset from compliance to sales, your approach to the safety programs completely changes.  You will actually find it easier to do your job when people are buying what you are selling; instead of the typical model of doing it because the law says so and struggling to get them to comply.


Selling is a process, just like any other safety program. If you follow the process, you will be successful.

It starts with learning about your customer, next identifying their wants and needs, and finally showing how your product offers them a solution.

Your product being safe work practices.


As a safety manager, your customers are the employees and the management team.  For this article, let’s focus on employees.

You need to get to know them.  What does the typical employee look like:

  • Demographics like age, education, income, marital status
  • What interests do they have and hobbies do they like?
  • How do they like to get information? Quick/short, cell phone, posters
  • How do they start their day, end their day, or do on the weekend?

All of this information can be gathered by getting to know your people and building relationships with them.  Have a discussion, ask them what they are into.

When you know your typical customer, it is way easier to craft your safety message to them.  Or to craft different variations of the same message.


How to improve your employee engagement in safety? You need to show how it matches their own want, needs, or solves their problem.

Make a list of what is most important to your employees. Why are they even working for the company? And what are they working towards?

The easy answer to this question is their paycheck and supporting themselves & their family. But take it deeper and broader.

  • What aspects of the job affect that paycheck – this is especially crucial for piecemeal work or ABC compensation
  • What are their goals for the future?
  • Why are they working here as opposed to another company?
  • What are they hoping for at the beginning of every shift?
  • What does an ideal day look like to them?

Keep in mind that money is only one motivator.  We all know we have to work to earn money but find out the deeper desires.  Having a day with no hassles and get home on time might be their biggest wish.


It is a common theme is safety that you have to get the employees to understand the WHY. You can’t just tell them what to do, to really get them engaged you have to get them to understand why it is essential to them.

This is selling safety.

But if you are not doing the first two steps, you could be missing the mark.

Take a step back and think about the policy, procedure, program, whatever it is; and answer the question:

How does this solve the employee’s problem and meet their wants and needs?

Answering this question is the essence of selling and how to improve employee engagement.


Telling someone they have to do something without a reason is the hard way and doesn’t usually work. You can’t be a drill sergeant. 

So, you can’t just yell orders and expect them to be followed.

“Because I said so” is never an effective strategy; know every parent out there.

Another thing to watch out for is “Because corporate said so” or “Because it is company policy.”  Neither of these matters to the person whose first goal is to build as many widgets as possible to increase their paycheck.

The truth is, employees only care enough about the company to make sure they keep their jobs.  It is not until your culture is more interdependent that company benefits help you sell safety (at that point your culture is so ingrained safety sells itself).


Focus on how safe work practice will benefit them personally.  If you can actually show them the benefits, visually or physically, that is best.

For example, a video of a worker doing the job unsafe side-by-side to one where they are following safety policy.  This is always mind-blowing.

Other focus areas could be:

  • They will physically feel better at the end of the day. The effects on their feet, back, neck, or fingers.
  • The stress factor. Doing it the safe way actually reduces stress and increases the flow of the task.  Flow states are more enjoyable.
  • Safety is actually more efficient and can increase their numbers. A lot of workers don’t believe this one until you actually show them.
  • The effect of fatigue on their productivity and numbers.
  • Safety actually makes their job easier.

Before coaching on any safe work practice, know your sales pitch ahead of time.

Remember– not every pitch will work for every employee.  So if at first, they don’t buy, you try something different the next time.


Make a list of what matters to most to your employees.  Put it on a post-it note on your computer monitor.  Every time you are creating training materials or promoting a safe work practice, ask yourself, how does it meet the employee’s wants and needs. 

This simple change in mindset will make your job easier.

Now It’s Your Turn

What is your favorite technique to sell safety to your employees?  Do you have a go-to sales pitch?  Comment below and share.  I would love to know what is working for you.

Need to sell safety to management? Check out my post how to do just that.

Hi, I'm Brye (rhymes with sky)!  I am a self-proclaimed safety geek with two decades of general industry safety experience.  Specializing in bringing safety programs to a world-class level and building a safety culture, I have trained and coached many safety managers, just like you, on how to effectively manage workplace safety in the real world.   I would love to help you too.

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