Top 6 Ways to Incentivize Safety

Jan. 13, 2012
Getting the best ROI on your safety incentive program

We all know the facts: an effective safety incentive program can reduce illness and injury related costs by 20% to 40%. According to the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, for every $1 invested in safety, there is between a $3 and $6 savings. And it is generally held that safety performance is a key indicator of the overall quality and competence of an organization.

But is your safety incentive program giving you the best Return on Investment? Or are your employees not reporting the accident in order to win the cruise? Here are a few tips to ensure that your organization is getting the most out of its safety incentive program.

Involve Everyone
Make sure to include and involve everyone, from the CEO to the manager all the way down to the factory floor worker. According to the National Safety Council, a company is most successful in harnessing the financial benefits of a safe workplace when its CEO recognizes that a culture of safety is a core business value. By involving everyone, you help anchor the program into each worker's day-to-day agenda, ensuring that the goals and processes that are put into place are pertinent, relevant and achievable.

Know Where You Are and Where You Are Going
Identify the behaviors, attitudes, practices that must be emphasized to meet the safety programs' goals as well as to enhance to company's overall mission and business objectives. Create both long-term, overarching goals, such as "Lowering the minor injury rate by 10% by next year", as well as specific, day-to-day, goals, such as "Ensure that all workers comply fully with regulations pertaining to forklift operation" and "100% attendance at the next safety meeting."

Use a Combination of Recognition and Reward Strategies and Tools
For your safety incentive program to be truly effective, use a combination of strategies and tools that motivate your workers to be proactive when it comes to safety. Use a points-based system to reward day-to-day actions whereby employees can redeem points for a day off. Nominate "Safety Superheroes" every month. Put out a suggestions box and a message board. Organize contests for the best new safety slogan.

Recognize Often, Publicly, and Genuinely
Countless studies have demonstrated the impact that genuine, timely and meaningful recognition can have on productivity, morale, and engagement. Remember that the best way to empower workers is to recognize their commitment to safety as often as possible. Recognition makes us feel valued and part of a team, and praise can reinforce, recognize and motivate the safe behaviors that you want to see.

Focus on Smaller Rewards for a Larger Number of People
Rather than awarding a cruise to the team with the best safety record after a year, focus on giving smaller rewards to more people on a regular basis. Better still, reward all individuals who demonstrate safe behaviors and practices. Small and timely rewards are more effective since they can easily be tied back to a specific action and encourages other workers to follow the example.

Understand that to Err is Human
While the ultimate aim of all safety incentive programs is to reduce the incidence of workplace accidents to zero, accidents do happen. Therefore, avoid disqualifying a group or an individual when it does occur. Rather, focus on how people reacted to the incident. Did they follow procedures when addressing the incident? Did anyone go above and beyond, and show exemplary behaviors? Are they developing ways to avoid future incidents? All of these are positive behaviors that help make your workplace a safer environment.

John Mills is executive vice president of Business Development at Rideau Recognition Solutions, a global leader in employee rewards and recognition programs designed to motivate and increase engagement and productivity across the workforce.

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