With bunting and Union flags at the ready, the nation will soon come together to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. We Brits can actually be quite patriotic at times, which got us thinking – what is it that makes us British? Furthermore how do these peculiar behaviours and idiosyncrasies impact on our behaviour at work?
Watch your Ps and Qs
We would like to think that most Brits still have old-fashioned values, such as being polite, an obsession with queuing and holding open a door for someone. This behaviour bodes well for health and safety at work – as not only will we hold the door open for someone but we will also help them with the heavy box they are carrying down the corridor and into the store room – reducing the risk of injury. Generally we like to look out for people, to offer assistance and lend a hand – or even an ear. But are we guilty of being too polite, perhaps? After all we wouldn’t want to upset or annoy anyone by interfering.
Mind your own business
There are aspects of the British personality that may have a negative impact on health and safety behaviour at work. We shouldn’t make sweeping generalisations about a whole nation but, as a rule, we are quite reserved. We very much don’t like to ‘make a fuss’ or complain – and if we do it’s in a very apologetic way. Or perhaps our famous ‘stiff upper lip’ makes us more likely to put up with unsafe conditions?
We are very good at moaning about someone under our breaths – or that terribly British thing the ‘tut’, but for the most part we would rather quietly stew and keep our opinions to ourselves. This unwillingness to ‘speak up’ is a key behavioural issue that needs to be overcome by a company who wants to create a successful health and safety culture.
A lot of fuss and bother
Of course it’s not just the Brits, if any of your employees do not like to make a fuss then they may not report an accident or fill out that near miss report. Perhaps they worry that they will get someone into trouble and be labelled a ‘grass’ or a ‘moaner’. They may also feel embarrassed about telling someone that their behaviour is dangerous, or that they are causing a slip or trip hazard, for example.
Your communication, therefore, needs to target this reserve, to encourage people to speak up, look out for others, get involved and talk about health and safety every day, as that is how we change behaviour and create a safer workplace. ‘Now, who’s up for a nice cuppa?