A company survey revealed that almost fifty percent of its employees were occasionally out of compliance with its eye protection policy.
Violators gave many excuses: “I wasn’t in the area very long.” “The glasses give me a headache.” “They blur my vision.” “I just forgot.”
To increase compliance, management toughened its disciplinary policy, posted pictures of nasty eye injuries, and displayed “reminders” in every nook and cranny. After a few weeks, compliance increased a meager five percent.
Management changed its influence tactics to stress examples of success such as: “An accident-free competitor reports that ninety-eight percent of its employees comply with eye protection requirements,” and “The plant with the best safety record in our industry reveals that eighty-five percent of its employees like their wrap around eye protection.”
A few weeks of this campaign showed a seventy-three percent improvement rate.
The successful influence attempt used the concept of “social proof,” where individuals strive to mimic the actions of others. Most employees have a social need that motivates them to adopt behaviors of successful peers and authorities.
Industry best practices, testimonials, ratings, certifications and the like influence our behaviors because they are manifestations of social proof.