It may not be the most exciting part of workplace culture, but everyone agrees that employee safety is non-negotiable!
What you may not already know is how far employee safety incentives have come, even in the last few years!
Business writer William Atkinson explains the history of such incentives in his article, “Safety Incentive Programs: What Works?”
“…management tallied up the number of accidents, incidents and near misses. If the numbers fell below a certain level, employees would be rewarded.”
This outdated approach concerned safety experts and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). According to them, this approach:
- pressured employees not to report accidents or injuries
- prevented management from getting information about current safety issues
- neglected the fact that, in many instances of an accident, employees are not personally at fault
It’s clear to us that effective safety incentives reward responsible employees rather than punishing irresponsible ones. Read more to learn how an improved safety incentive will both protect and encourage your employees!
Reward Behaviors that Enhance Safety
OSHA determined that employee safety incentives based on incident frequency must be eliminated. Good news — there’s an alternative! In “Are Safety Incentive Programs Counterproductive?” Ron Ragain, a partner in the RAD Group, says that workplace incentives should reward “upstream activities” such as participation in safety improvement efforts, safety meetings, and training.
Brendan Larkin, a sales development specialist at QIC, offers employee safety incentives best practices in “8 Safety Incentive Program Best Practices.”
“In a well planned and executed program, employees are more proactive about following safe practices and bringing up potential issues and concerns. A culture develops where being mindful of safety becomes ingrained in everyone’s work habits.”
We’ve made it easy for you and featured our top-four best practices:
- Reward Behaviors That Build to Workplace Safety—Say thank you for the small things! Acknowledge employees not only for participating in training, but also for reporting “near misses,” identifying workplace hazards and developing solutions, working proactively, and conducting work area inspections and job safety analyses.
- Vary Incentives—Award points for day-to-day safety-promoting activities, on-the-spot awards for employees observed “doing something right,” special awards for individual employees who consistently do an outstanding job of promoting a safe work environment, and team performance awards for reaching safety-related goals.
- Involve Everyone—Involvement by all levels of employees will drive performance and long-term program success. Ask senior managers to demonstrate their commitment to safety by attending safety committee meetings and participate in safety inspections!
- Communicate—Because employee safety incentives create a formal way to measure proactive behaviors, not just results, it’s a means of celebrating and encouraging the positive actions that make a difference, rather than focusing on the negative of incident/accident data.
Richard Flynn, director of marketing at C.A. Short Company, affirms the value (and concrete benefits!) of balanced programs. As he writes in Safety and Health magazine’s “Designing a Safety Incentive Program,“
“In the end, a balanced safety incentive program will measure and recognize your people for safety engagement on and off the job and will, if properly structured, raise safety awareness, reduce incidents and increase the bottom line—all without encouraging non-reporting of incidents.”
For more great tips and insights into building a vibrant culture of engagement, loyalty and appreciation, be sure to download our free e-book, “The Top 20 Employee Engagement Blogs You Should be Reading”.
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