Ergon Energy is an electrical service provider supplying electricity to around 740,000 customers across a vast operating area of regional Queensland. With 4,000 employees Ergon Energy wanted to educate staff, customers and the wider community about electrical safety.
In 2014 they launched a behaviour change campaign known as the 'Grim Llama' safety campaign which aimed to prompt folk to ‘Think ahead a bit’ around electricity.
The campaign (which is still active today) is about translating strong safety awareness into actual behaviour change. It features the Grim Llama, a memorable trigger designed to bring safety top of mind when people are near potential hazards.
Ergon were aware that people had been exposed to the same safety messages for years. In the case of Ergon Energy this resulted in complacency, with folk knowing what to do, but failing to change their behaviour and think ahead in regard to safety and electricity hazards.
It can be common issue in the workforce where habituation takes over following identical communication of repeated messaging that no longer register with the end receiver.
The Grim Llama campaign challenged the status quo and aimed to break habituation, and revert to a recurrence of the original response.
It did this by changing the stimulus with use of communication that cut through the noise and fostered curiosity and even seek to delight. The campaign not only aimed to ensure that people took notice but provided a reminder to people in the moment - all without resorting to fear.
Recent research undertaken at Harvard University showed that 47 per cent of a person’s day can be spent lost in thoughts, thinking about something other than what they’re doing. Yep operating on our autopilot. From a Health & Safety perspective this is were we are at our biggest risk if the correct behaviours or processes are not embedded or being practised.
But never fear - habituation can be beaten, with better communication accomplished by designing messaging that seizes attention, engages, and seeks to break the cycle to conquer this phenomenon known as habituation.