Sun protection: how to encourage change in the workplace

Getting people to change in the workplace can be hard.  We all have so much to focus on sometimes it is just easier to do what we have always done, rather than making the effort to do something in a new way.   But there are a few ways you can encourage people to make positive changes in the workplace that could help save them from skin cancer.

Walk the talk

There is no better way to get people on board with positive sun protection than by doing it yourself.  Would you wear a hat if the person that was telling you to do it never wore a hat?  I don’t think so.  If you want to sell a product like safety then you need to be seen to be safe yourself, consistently, which means you need to Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide every day when working outdoors.

What’s in it for me?

It’s true we rarely do anything if there isn’t something in it for ourselves.  When it comes to sun protection I guess the biggest win is reducing your risk of skin cancer over your lifetime.  But if that doesn’t work there are always rewards for staff that do follow the sun protection rules, like awards or additional benefits.  Punishment like official warnings can also work in increasing sun protection measures in the workplace, but this is much less likely to get them to embrace the behaviour, instead making them do it under protest (and probably with a lot of complaining to others about it).

Make it easy

The best way to encourage change is to make it as easy as possible.  If you are looking at new sun protection PPE in the workplace then do the ordering for your staff and have it delivered straight to them, either at work or home.  If they have to make the effort to order it then some people just won’t bother doing it.  Also have samples of work gear they can try on, perhaps in different styles, so they can find something that fits them well and is comfortable.  If you supply sunscreen in the workplace try and supply a variety of types.  Some sunscreens are more pleasant to use than others, and if they like a certain type they are more likely to use it each day.  Also, put it in the bathroom, next to the mirror, so they will be reminded each time they use the toilet, and will have a mirror handy to aid with application (plus they can wash excess off their hands easily too).

Providing simple reminders about how to apply sunscreen correctly or alerts during the day to reapply sunscreen or wear a hat can also be effective, because until it becomes a habit it can be easy to forget.

Get positive momentum

It is easier to push an already moving train than a stationary one, and the same applies with behaviour change.  Keep the conversation about sun protection ongoing and regular.  There is little chance of people continuing with any new behaviour it is just the flavour of the month and never mentioned again until next year.  Keeping it forefront of their minds helps to reinforce the behaviour and also lets them know it is an important issue in the workplace.

You might only have one or two employees, or maybe you have dozens, regardless promoting safety and health behaviour in the workplace benefits both your employees and protects your business.   By making sun protection an important issue in your workplace you are letting your staff know that you care about their wellbeing.


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