Safety moment topics often focus on physical well-being and actions. While this is important; it is equally important to include workplace safety moment topics that focus on mental and emotional well-being. The safest workers are those who are both physically and psychologically healthy. Here’s why.
Your Thoughts Dictate Your Actions
There is a well-known proverb that states:
“Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words. Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions. Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits. Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character. Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.”
For greater insight into this saying, see therapist Robert C. Jameson’s Huffington Post article “Be Careful of Your Thoughts: They Control Your Destiny.”
For our purposes, let’s stick with the “thoughts become words become actions” section of this saying. Because, while staff does need to know how to safely conduct themselves, addressing their thoughts—which are directly linked to their mental and emotional state—gets to the root of things.
An employee who knows all the right things to do but is in a poor mental state will not be thinking clearly. Unclear or negative thoughts lead to unsafe and unwise actions.
Mental and Emotional Topics for Safety Moment Effectiveness
You don’t have to rely on the words in a proverb to prove that thoughts, or one’s psychological state, dictate behavior: statics bear this out. Stress, distraction, and mental fatigue are leading causes of workplace injuries. Workplace violence ranks high, too, and violence is a direct result of anger. Substance abuse is regularly linked to emotional issues. It certainly doesn’t need to be emphasized that using banned substances at work is a huge safety hazard!
Given how strongly mental and physical well-being are linked, one might argue that they should be addressed in equal measure. Here are some interesting safety moment topics to get you started on that journey. In fact, each one could be the subject of multiple safety moments:
- Breathing exercises
Presenting Less Conventional Safety Moment Topics for Meetings
Reality check: not everyone is going to be on board with your increasing focus on their emotional and mental health, no matter how convincingly you present the topics as being important for worker safety.
Emotions and mental health dive into areas that make people feel vulnerable. And people who aren’t comfortable with being vulnerable, even though vulnerability has been shown to increase workplace safety, are likely to fight back.
Some people may see practices like meditation or breathing exercises as a New Age waste of time or too touchy-feely and “woo woo.” Beware. Your approach will determine the difference between topics for safety moment success and topics for safety moment failure.
The first step is to know your audience. If you sense that you’re likely to get pushback, be sure to acknowledge that, and take things slow. Break down these topics into easily digestible parts, making sure to share both the why and the how for the practice you’re covering.
First-person accounts are very powerful. Find someone who, say, uses meditation to manage anger issues, or someone who uses breathing techniques to release stress. Ask them to share their story and techniques.
One excellent feature of these topics is that they lend themselves to user-friendly takeaways and hands-on practices. Share YouTube yoga videos, suggest free meditation apps, lead a guided visualization, or demonstrate breathing exercises. Doing is believing, and this helps make a subject relevant. And a key tip for creating an effective safety moment is to make it relevant.
Another tip is to find funny safety moment topics for meetings. While humor may seem incongruous with serious practices as meditation and yoga, that doesn’t need to be the case. And adding levity is a good way to get people to relax about trying something new. Laughter also contributes to bonding.
Just imagine if you could get everyone at your safety moment to try the Lion’s Breath breathing exercise, which has been shown to help release tension. As effective as it is, no one can deny that it generates a funny face (and perhaps some laughter), as this short video demonstrates
Another tip to consider is to coordinate topics with the time of year. Mental and emotional health are particularly appropriate safety moment topics for fall and winter.
During this time of year, the days get shorter and the weather is typically colder. This can lead to feelings of depression and lethargy. The holidays can also bring up loads of mental and emotional stressors.
Providing workers with the skill, for example, of using a short meditation to restore personal calm in the midst of family drama may prove very useful. This could also create opportunities for workers to share such experiences at an upcoming safety moment meeting.
When the Challenge is High, Be the Leader to Follow
Introducing new ideas and practices can be challenging, especially when those practices may make people feel vulnerable. But it’s important to recognize that, uncomfortable as it may be, psychological health is a critical factor in workplace safety.
To get worker buy-in, it’ll be especially important to lead by example. We invite you to share your staff’s experiences as you explore and experiment with mental and emotional safety moment topics.