Employees know the risk of serious injury, or death, that can result from not following their employer’s safety regulations. However, knowing these consequences doesn’t always provide enough motivation to all employees to use approved safety procedures. To add an extra incentive, many companies have developed reward programs that give prizes to employees who follow safety rules.
These types of incentive programs work best if they have simple, well-defined rules. Well-designed programs allow employees to accrue points over time, so that they can save up for the prize they really want. However, to prevent employees from losing interest, the program should offer rewards every 30 days, or let employees “cash in” accrued points whenever they want.
The program should offer a variety of prizes. Employers can partner with a company that manufactures incentive prizes and choose the prizes they want to offer from catalogs this company would provide. When deciding on prizes, include a selection of items that can be acquired with a small number of points and those that require a larger amount. This variety will help to maintain employee interest in the program over time.
Though cash might seem to be a good incentive on the surface, it usually is not for this type of program. When employees receive cash for their accrued points, they generally use it for a functional purpose like bill paying. In order for an incentive program to be successful, the prizes should have a recreational purpose, like a t-shirt or picnic basket. However, gift cards usually work well in incentive programs, because employees can redeem them for items that they really want.
Base program reward points on the actions of individual workers, not on the actions of a department or line as a whole. If the incentives are team-based, employees might be pressured by their fellow workers not to report something that management should hear about, in order to avoid the possibility that the group would lose the incentive.
Once you start a safety incentive program, continuity is important, and the program should be terminated only for a really good reason. If an employer terminates the program because it becomes too expensive to administer, it runs the risk of employees’ low morale from this decision, and also sending the message that the employer isn’t placing a high value on safety. Sometimes employers cut incentive programs because the results are not what they expected. Remember, not every employee will choose to participate. Some will feel that the incentive program is silly or demeaning. However, those that participate will give their full support, and the safety of your workplace will increase as a result.