What Is The Safety “Butterfly Effect”
The Safety “Butterfly Effect”
The “butterfly effect” says that any small change in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere. For example: Every time a supervisor gives an employee positive recognition for a safe behavior, it reinforces that behavior and makes it more likely to occur in the future.
That small interaction between the supervisor and employee may also send a positive message about safety that has a ripple effect throughout the entire organization. You can’t really predict exactly what might result, but it could result in an increase in that same and other safe behaviors, both in the workplace and at home.
On the other hand, if a supervisor yells at employees for “complaining,” a very negative message is sent. It says employees are, in some way, not “OK.” And, just as the butterfly effect occurs with positive recognition, negative messages can have a profound negative impact on production, services, and morale.
However, I think the worst possible form of recognition occurs when employees are totally ignored no matter how great their performance is. That sends the message that they don’t exist. Let’s talk a little more about the negative impact of ignoring others.
Most of us have experienced the sting of being ignored by someone. It can feel like an invisible wall is built up between you and that person, making it difficult to communicate effectively. If this happens in the workplace, it can make employees feel insignificant or unimportant. This could lead to decreased motivation, engagement, morale and ultimately, increased safety risks.
So, the Safety “Butterfly Effect” is simple: recognize employees for their efforts in a positive, meaningful way and you will be amazed at how that small change can have a huge, long-term impact on safety. The key is to remember that no matter how small the recognition may seem, it can still create an enormous ripple effect. That’s why recognizing safety is so important. It encourages safe behavior, and when everyone is on the same page about safety, it benefits the entire organization.