Understanding Risk-Taking Behaviors

Understanding Risk-Taking Behaviors

Workers on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic are servicing hospitals, packaging food, delivering mail, filling prescriptions, and more. They are keeping us safe by putting themselves in harm’s way. The least they can rely on is a safe work environment.

Unfortunately, not everyone is on the same page when it comes to the pandemic. Some are heeding advice and taking precautions, staying close to home and have battened down the hatches. Others defy rules and challenge the authorities making them, perhaps even carrying on as though nothing is happening. What makes the difference in how people react to the rules of these times?  It really comes down to personality.

Understanding why some of your employees may or may not be taking social distancing and the ‘Stay Home’ advisory as seriously as others can help you keep your workplace safe.

Employees with high-risk personality traits are 5X more likely to be involved in safety incidents in the workplace. Awareness of these personality traits in your employees can help you predict and reduce employee-related incidents, and keep your entire team safe.

90% of safety incidents are caused by human error.

The TalentClick Safety Quotient (SQ) measures 6 personality dimensions, indicative of one’s predisposition to unsafe or risky behaviors. The most threatening trait in the time of such upheaval is:


These employees tend to question rules and resist change, no matter the situation. They are more likely to cut corners, defy safety rules and standard operating procedures, and question the reason or purpose of such changes. 

In a time where greater restrictions are imposed, they may struggle to adapt and fight retraining efforts. It is in their nature to be sceptical of such precautions. These employees can pose the greatest threat to your business and operations. 

Outside the workplace, it is likely that they will forget to follow social distancing guidelines or to wear gloves or a mask while running errands without understanding the consequences when they come to work next. They could endanger members of their team by skirting new restrictions and ignoring regulations. These employees are more likely to have caused safety incidents in the past, and this may indicate they are most likely to compromise their team during the pandemic.

Resistant employees become even more dangerous to your organization if they also have other high-risk personality traits such as: 

Impatient: Resistant employees who are also Impatient will be easily frustrated as they learn new safety procedures, and may quickly give up learning new protocols.

Impulsive: Resistant employees who are also Impulsive make quick decisions that may not be well thought through. They may not consider the consequences of their actions that could be potentially harmful to co-workers.

Thrill-Seeking: Resistant employees who also score high in Thrill-Seeking are excited by uncertainty and risk. They may not only resist safety protocols, they may be energized and enjoy the risk they are taking.

Under normal circumstances, these employees may be able to regulate their behavior and adapt to safety procedures and rules. However, with rules and regulations being implemented from the highest level of government down to the local supermarket, they may struggle to see the advantage. Their high-risk personality traits will be exponentially more dangerous to themselves and the organization they work for.

Learn more about risk-taking behavior and the 6 personality traits predictive of safety incidents by signing up for our Safety Self Awareness, or Managing Safety Self Awareness Course.

Take our 8-minute Safety Quotient to get started now!