Since starting Workplace Health™ with onsite COVID-19 testing, one recurring pattern creating flare-ups in companies that seek support is employee noncompliance.
Compliance depends on a willingness to consent, not necessarily more stringent enforcement of rules. As John Draeger, owner of Draeger’s Supermarkets in California, commented,
"It’s very difficult to change people’s behavior."
Fortunately, the noncompliant outgroups are frequently small and do not have opposing intentions, just a reluctance to form new habits that now require behavioral changes.
5 Practical Strategies to Foster Compliance
1. As stated in the California Employers Playbook for a Safe Reopening,
“Talk with your workers about planned changes and seek their input. Additionally, collaborate with workers and unions to effectively communicate important COVID-19 information.”
2. Reward positive behaviors to create social pressures on the negative outliers. Social pressure increases as the company moves more people to strong support for steps toward a safer workplace.
3. Convince central individuals that compliance is crucial, since these employees are an exemplar of the group to which they belong and yield influence from strong friendship ties
4. As your employees develop and implement rapport with customers, it’s ideal to recognize and celebrate them. Employers have a responsibility to help their teams develop rapport skills with oppositional customers while creating an environment in which rapport-building can thrive.
Ideally, employers can highlight outbreak occurrences while protecting employee privacy with three actions:
- Complete health checks of coworkers
- Support sick employees’ wellbeing with health monitoring and check-ins
- Increase cleaning frequency in suspected outbreak areas
5. Build rapport with opposing outgroups. Arrange one-on-one or small group conversations with those who simply don’t buy in. Rapport is a high-level skill that allows you and someone opposing you (or something you are doing) to see each other as being on the same side. It’s not what you say—it’s whether you show you can authentically listen to, relate to, and appreciate them and where they are coming from.
By using rapport, you can counter objectors and get them onside by asking their advice on how to make things work better and flow easier. Once they know they are seen and heard, you can draw them into the effort of the whole team. It’s what hostage negotiators use. It’s what spy interrogators use. It’s what 21st century business leaders can use.
Leaders who can create team buy-in for COVID-19 health and safety policies are better served to prevent outbreaks from occurring.