EHS Management

Four Strategies to Kick Your Safety Incentive Program Up a Notch

By now, you’ve put the basics in place. Your safety incentive program is structured to reward safety without suppressing reporting and to ensure that it doesn’t look like an entitlement or used to reward only supervisors’ “favorites.” But, could you take your safety incentive program to the next level?

safety warehouse incentives management

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Here are four strategies you can use.

Give it a Personal Touch

Giving incentives a personal touch is one way to take your program to the next level. Scratch-off tickets, clothing, and food rewards are nice, but imagine the effect if you took the time to make each reward just a little more personal. Consider whether you could:

  • Use workers’ names. Supervisors and managers should thank workers personally when presenting incentives—don’t just stuff it in a pay envelope! Greet workers by name, and make mention of their specific safety achievement and how it contributes to the organization.
  • Make an announcement. Create a safety recognition board in the workplace for posting the names and specific accomplishments of workers who have made significant contributions to safety in the workplace.
  • Level up your recognition. Workers probably expect their supervisor to know their name and something about their families, but what about regional managers, company officers, and CEOs? When your workers accomplish something significant—perhaps 100% compliance with safe work rules, especially if this led to an accident-free 6-month or 1-year period—offer them personalized recognition from a level of management from which they might not ordinarily expect to receive it.

Timing Is Everything

Some incentive programs are structured to reward workers at the end of a safe year—but those programs can end up rewarding the workers who would have worked safely anyway. What you want to do is catch the attention and improve the record of the worker who needs just a little more incentive to pay attention to safety. More frequent awards often work better for this than rewards that are only given for longer-term accomplishments.

Size Matters

While scratch-off cards might be an appropriate reward for workers who wear their safety gear every day, the team that redesigns a process to eliminate hazardous chemical exposures should probably receive a more substantial reward. Although experts generally advise against big-ticket items like cars, fishing boats, or vacations (which might be more of an incentive to fraud than to safe behavior), a larger-scale reward is due for larger-scale safety accomplishments. If your usual reward is a logo ball cap or pen, perhaps your large-scale reward could be a leather jacket or messenger bag with the company’s logo—and possibly a mention of the workers’ specific achievement.

Move Up the Ladder

What incentives are you offering your supervisors? They are a vital link in your safety program, not least because of the positive (or negative!) influence they can have on their crews. Look for ways to reward supervisors for emphasizing safety. For example, try offering dinner for two at a special restaurant or a small cash bonus to any supervisor who takes verifiable, affirmative steps to improve safety.

Tomorrow we’ll look at some sources for fresh safety incentive program ideas.