Safety Incentives

The age old question and resulting debate continues to divide organisations across the globe: Should an employee be paid an incentive for working safely??.

The answer may never be known but it is a heck of a lot of fun trying to sort it out. So whilst I can’t give you a definitive answer whether an incentive should be provided and should it be cash based I can certainly provide you with some things to think about when you do get around to the discussion.

  • Is Cash the ONLY form of recognition that will work for your people?
  • When you do recognise performance consider the effort that goes into achieving the outcome – for example, your office environment will be able to reach number of days without an injury with far less effort than your Manufacturing team: Should they be rewarded the same way.
  • What should be recognised? the example given above is not a great measure. Do you really want your people to stop reporting injuries to receive the incentive, I am sure that is not the aim but it may be the outcome.
  • What do the people want? One novel option is to ask your employees what they want as recognition of their improved safety performance. With one organisation it was very appealing to have the executive team come in prior to the 6am shift and cook breakfast for the night and day shift. At 4am with aprons, juice, coffee and BBQ tools in hand it not only recognised a sensational achievement it also went a long way to bridging the gap between the shifts and the employment sectors.
  • Should it be team based or individual based. WARNING WARNING WARNING nothing will destroy a team faster than negative competition between them.
  • Who determines and reviews the results and what happens if you just miss out on the target? Is there a consolation prize other than being injured.
  • The time-frame needs to be realistic – if you have to work a year without your incentive will it loose momentum. If you only have to work a month before receiving your incentive has it had an impact on the culture.
  • What sort of message are you sending out?  Yes we may enjoy a bottle of something cold as we approach the summer months but we discourage drinking in connection with work hours. Is it then appropriate to give it as an incentive.
  • Will the rules be bent to within an inch of their lives to enable everyone to get across the line. The aim is to improve safety performance, the last thing you want is for people to be breaking rules, under reporting, turning a blind eye all in an effort to get to the pot of gold at the end of the road to safety.
  • The prize must fit the fight – Every week your team cleanup and ensure housekeeping is a priority, they report hazards and the corrective action team have finalised all of the list of non conformance – they have done a sensational job, they have worked hard for six months bringing together the team, everyone is excited because they have achieved the target, they are going to get the award, they have the box, they open it, they are standing in front of their peers, they have WON ! and inside the box is a T shirt with the company logo on it……….Yes there are other benefits, yes they do feel all warm and fuzzy cause they work in a safer work environment but is the T-shirt an anticlimax?
  • How do you know if you are THERE and what happens next? Are you doomed forever to provide bigger and better “prizes” at the end of each program – Where will it end other than in tears.

About the Author

Safety Concepts is an online resource providing up to date insights and covering issues in the field of Workplace Safety.

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