Urban Utilities keeps it Safe. Simple.
Urban Utilities (UU) are one of the largest water distribution retailers in Australia, supplying drinking water, recycled water and sewerage services to a population of more than 1.4 million in South East Queensland.
The utility employs over 1300 people across engineering, professional, administration and field based roles. Over the last 2 years, they’ve been on a cultural journey to define and embed leadership behaviours to support their purpose and vision.
Safety at Urban Utilities had not previously been a large focus area and the organisation felt it was now time to raise awareness and embed safety firmly into their culture.
UU Health and Safety Manager Kym Bancroft, knew she needed to approach this challenge strategically. She needed to develop a simple and engaging safety program that would set the foundations for safety leadership explaining: what safety is, what UU’s approach is, and what role leaders needed to play in creating a safety culture. Above all, it needed to break down the preconceived notion that safety is complicated.
The program was designed across four one day modules and delivered over four months.
The audience for this program would be predominantly ‘white collar’ middle and senior management. Some key blue collar leaders were also selected to attend the program. This cohort is responsible for driving the biggest change in safety at Urban Utilities. Demographically, the audience is typically male — ranging from late 20’s to 65 years of age. Being Queensland based, this demographic are usually family men, university educated and have had some experience in safety — but usually that experience is that safety is someone else’s responsibility. This program needed to change mindsets and engage attendees in a new safety leadership conversation.
A conversation that isn't only about “three points of contact” or “putting on your PPE”, but rather digging into the psychology and behavioural science of why we do what we do and how as leaders, we play a big part in shaping the safety climate around us.
These workshops were to challenge existing beliefs, traditional practices and shift how safety was viewed at Urban Utilities.
The goals for the program were:
1. Communicate the latest science based research in safety to leaders
2. Design a program that leaders would want to be a part of — and refer back to beyond the end of the program.
3. Shift mindsets on how people approached safety at UU by empowering them with information and practical tools.
From focus groups and research it was discovered that the target audience found safety overly complicated, a waste of time, bloated with paperwork and “just another bloody thing to do” on top of everything else.
When working with technical and academic thinkers, content tends to be dense and lacking in real world relevance. From early on, we knew we would have to be the ones to constantly remind the working group from UU, to put the participant at the heart of the program experience. We held a half day service design workshop to journey map what the experience of the program would be — from invitation through to the 1 day workshops.
Together we wire-framed each module based on the flow of energy through the day. Our focus was on learning outcomes delivered through an engaging learning experience.
How we positioned the program could make or break buy in for it, so the brand itself became very important. We needed something that would cognitively frame participants that this was going to be different. Not another boring technical safety workshop.
Once we had the content, we identified hierarchy of information, key takeaways, interactive activities and complex or dense content that needed visualisation for simplification. Visually the design had a big part to play. It needed to reinforce our positioning of the program, support our goals to make the complex simple and provide enough flexibility that we could add to the content each month with the development of each new module.
Brand and positioning
The starting point for the brand was the name. We knew if we went out with ‘Safety Leadership Program’ we’d be setting ourselves for failure. We undertook a series of activities to uncover what the name and brand for the program would be. We went through our typical approach of understanding the personality, emotional drivers and archetype which lead to discovering our tone of voice. Words such as ‘simple’, ’approachable’, ‘bold,’ ’progressive’, ‘curious’ and ‘dependable’ became our creative lenses. We developed a shortlist of names and taglines that played in the different territories suggested by these lenses.
UU Safe As.
Project Drop Bear
hUUman safety (see what we did there!)
But in the end simplicity won out and the end result was Safe. Simple.
Safe. Simple. setup the right thinking and gave us an incredible amount of flexibility in building the program. With 4 modules, we were able to build out the Safe. Simple. brand architecture.
Safe. Simple. Together
Safe. Simple. Insights
Safe. Simple. Ethical
Safe. Simple. Everyday
Previous safety workshops were heavy on content with power points comprising of 1000s of bullet points. Not ideal for an engaged learning experience! The design of the 4 days was workshopped using human-centred design methodology. Thinking about the energy of the days, and activities that would embed learning.
A simple, bold colour palette was chosen to reinforce the simplicity message as well as sit the program firmly in a safety sphere. Large typography also reinforced the simplicity and matched our predominantly male ‘blokey’ audience. The choice of images played with a science and human dynamic. If something was technically and ‘sciencey,’ we might have chosen put it with a slightly ridiculous robot character. A combination of real photos and illustration kept things interesting and fresh throughout. Plenty of space was included for interactive activities we designed as well as self-diagnostics and note taking.
Working with academic, research based content can be tricky! A never-ending balance between what’s scientifically correct, and what’s relevant and applicable to the audience.
Ultimately we were able to tick the box on all our project goals with participants raving about the program saying it was engaging and relevant. So much so, that an estimated 40% more employees are asking to attend the training!
The actual content was incredibly challenging presenting new concepts and ways of thinking to an audience with not much prior experience in this area.
Jaxzyn’s approach was able to connect theory with practical in a human, engaging way. As the first foray into safety leadership at UU, the stage has been set for indeed doing safety differently now and in the future.
‣ It was the lens for deciding what content was included
‣ It was the lens for tone of voice — including headings and content
‣ It gave us a way to continuously honour what the original intent of the program was – to break down preconceptions that safety is complicated and someone else’s responsibility.