Five Essential Employee Safety Reward Program Practices

May 15, 2017 Deb Broderson

Five Essential Employee Safety Reward Program Practices

When it comes to employee safety programs we’ve all heard people say, “It doesn’t matter what we do, nothing changes.” However, when done correctly, safety programs create a safer work environment, higher morale, and increased employee engagement.  One of the issues that plague employee safety programs is a singular focus on reducing accidents instead of addressing the behaviors that cause accidents and then building a program/plan that addresses the core problems. Building a behavior-based program is a more comprehensive, holistic approach that will incorporate intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, training, communications, and rewards. 

Considerations around intrinsic and extrinsic motivators are often overlooked in the design of a safety program, but they are an important element to success.  Research shows that financial (extrinsic) motivators can reduce the effect of meeting intrinsic goals, when they are not balanced. In fact, intrinsic motivators such as learning new skills, nurturing intellectual curiosity, and enjoying tasks are critical to keeping employees engaged and motivated in their job and staying at your organization.  Extrinsic motivation does not equate to giving out a cash reward, in fact, cash is not a motivator.  It has no trophy value, it’s typically paid out in a paycheck, which means it gets blended into a salary (which ultimately means that it will be used to pay bills). In one study by the Incentive Marketing Association it was documented that 18 percent of cash recipients could not recall how they spent their cash incentive, and another 40 percent used the cash to pay for bills and household items – not very engaging. 

Employee Safety Reward Program Best Practices

Effective employee safety reward programs are designed around the work processes or tasks that are normally assigned to employees and integrates safety and health related decisions and precautions into them. A successful employee safety program should be based on an understanding of employees’ values and the creation of tools that target factors that motivate and inspire.

Here are five best practices of employee safety reward programs for employers to keep in mind:

  1. Acknowledge and understand the current safety challenges and activities of your workers.  Collect baseline data from multiple sources, including the employees.  Using that information, develop a plan the identifies the trends and behaviors that require attention.
  2. When designing your safety program rewards, ensure that the awards are meaningful and motivating to your community.  Many companies have learned cash is not the most effective way to motivate or drive results. The right award options can create great trophy value and improve program engagement. Trophy value becomes a walking advertisement for your company as well as making a great connection with your employee.
  3. Training is critical.  Safety training is the best way to ensure your procedures are understood and a great way to reinforce safe behaviors.  It reinforces your safety goals, and reminds participants about the impacts of not achieving those goals while training employees about what it takes, daily, to ensure a safe working environment.
  4. On-the-spot awards are a great vehicle to add a personal element to the program and allow management to recognize and reward employees for either reporting unsafe work conditions or for working in a safe manner.  Immediate recognition and reward allows you to showcase the safe behaviors you want to drive everyone to adopt. Take pictures of these spontaneous recognition moments so you can showcase them in your various communication vehicles.
  5. Ongoing communication is crucial to every step of your program. In today’s environment having a communication channel dedicated to your safety program is a great place for your participants to go to for information, reporting, and safety updates. This can be accomplished via a reward website, your company portal, newsletters, social networking, posters in the break rooms and cafeterias, etc.  This multi-channel approach will let you better engage employees in the safety program.

At the end of the day, everyone wants to be recognized and appreciated for a job well done.  Appreciation is what drives the seemingly unattainable productivity that companies desire from their workers. Incorporating employee safety reward program best practices will create a safe work environment while increasing morale. When employees are rewarded for practicing safe behaviors, identifying new workplace hazards, or being accident-free for a given period, just to name a few, they will be motivated to stay accident-free and feel appreciated by employers.

Want more information about best practices of safety reward programs for employees? 

Send me a note,  I’d love to chat.

About the Author

Deb Broderson

Deb Broderson comes to Perks with 30 years of diverse experience leading channel marketing, marketing operations and program management teams within the technology industry. Deb has provided strategic direction to Fortune 500 clients, developed and executed global, multi-channel, go-to-market strategies and created worldwide field marketing organizations. Deb has worked on both the agency and client-side of the business, providing a well-rounded perspective to client challenges. Deb was honored as one of the Top 50 Channel Chiefs in North America by CRN.

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