Simple but Effective: ‘Thank You’ Badges Foster Strong Safety Culture across GE Gas Power New Unit Project Sites in MENA
June 26, 2023
Some of the best ideas – including those related to environment, health and safety (EHS) – come from frontliners. It’s equally true that simple ideas often are the most effective.
Both truisms are illustrated by the “Motivational Leadership Program – Thank you Badge”, an initiative born from a comment made by a frontliner.
A frontline worker observed that EHS engineers, and other managers and leaders walking through worksites and workshops generally only paid attention to staff not complying with HSE rules. He asked why employees operating in a safe and responsible manner never received recognition.
“He made that comment to me, and it was a real eye opener,” said Mohammad Hussein, EHS Leader for Gas Power in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) . “He was absolutely right. We did not address this aspect of EHS behavior.”
That encounter happened back in 2007 when Hussein was working at a prior company and led him to initiate an earlier version of the Thank You Badge program. He continued working on improving the initiative to the point that it became a comprehensive Recognition and Leadership Program that requires one-day training on site for effective implementation. When he joined GE in 2013, Mohammed implemented the program across all sites in his region, he and his team improved the program further and aligned it with GE’s values and requirements.
The program operates as follows: EHS professionals, site managers, engineers, supervisors of GE and partners, are given badges before they begin a walk through a site. Whenever they see a person or team demonstrating strong EHS compliance, they hand each person a badge that says, “Thank you for working safely.” On some occasions, the same badges were also given by visiting senior leaders from GE or its partners.
To reinforce the importance of consistent safety compliance, the program offers a reward, such that when staff receive a second Thank You badge, they can exchange the two badges for a gift certificate or other gift voucher valued at up to US$50
“As the program was introduced across GE MENA new unit project sites, leaders began to see the impact of the program immediately,” he said. “They found improved morale and, even more
significantly, improved compliance with safety guidelines, resulting in fewer instructions issued to staff.”
“Not only does it transform safety behaviors from ‘instructions’ into ‘habits,’” said Hussein, “it transforms frontliners into safety champions and creates a virtuous cycle of positive peer pressure, while also creating opportunities for two-way positive safety conversations between managers and frontliners.”
Because of the value of that interaction, the Thank You Badge program also includes a leadership training component that explains how the badges should be awarded. The flexibility of the program means that even global leaders visiting a site can be given Thank You badges to hand out when they notice commendable EHS behavior.
The initiative also fosters collaboration between Gas Power and its customers and partners by offering an additional opportunity for meaningful engagement, Hussein said.
After its success on specific sites, the program was expanded to Gas Power new unit project worksites across MENA.
Read more here about how GE Gas Power supports EHS across MENA