The Ultimate Guide to Safety Incentive Programs
14 June 2022 - Evotix
The ideal for any business is that everybody, and everything, is working in unison, moving toward the same goal. In reality, that isn’t always the case.
A host of disruptions could knock you off track: a global pandemic, the great resignation, a new merger, a new policy change that requires business re-positioning, etc.; the list can be considerable.
Managing those disruptions is extremely important in helping to make sure everyone does indeed pull in the same direction. Key elements need to be robust to help maintain continuity. One such element – for those with environment, health and safety responsibilities – is the safety incentive program.
When implemented correctly, a safety incentive program can boost workplace safety, increase employee morale and contribute to wider business productivity. So, if you’re ready, let’s take a further look.
What are safety incentive programs?
Safety incentive programs are an important part of an organization’s wider environment, health and safety (EHS) program. As the name suggests, these are programs designed to encourage employees take a more proactive approach when it comes to their health and safety duties in the workplace. In addition, these programs help reduce the number of injuries and illnesses by cultivating a safer workplace environment.
It’s important to note that these are separate from the safety obligations most employees will already have as part of their roles – such as reporting on incidents or following safety regulations. Safety incentive programs build an even more robust culture in the workplace and motivate employees to go beyond their job descriptions, for example, in proactively identifying hazards or coming up with safety solutions that can benefit the business.
The role of safety incentive programs
Every year, over 5,000 people are killed in workplace accidents in the US and EU – a number that has risen in the US during the last 10 years. In the US, blue-collar workers are five times as likely to have accidents as their white-collar counterparts. That’s why having employees keenly engaged in EHS practices is vital for any successful business.
The problem is many safety processes – particularly if they are manual – are long and arduous. “My favorite thing about filling out forms is how easy they make it to engage with health and safety,” said no one ever. Joking aside, employees often feel the admin tasks they need to do for health and safety wastes valuable time that could be spent doing their ‘real’ jobs, whatever they may be. Although you can’t demand that employees participate in proactive safety behaviors and expect to be successful, you can encourage them to by providing additional incentives and perks – to help improve that level of engagement.
What are examples of safety incentive programs?
Safety incentive programs can take many forms. Direct cash-based gifts might seem like the most obvious solution, but there are many alternative, less costly options, such as:
- Paid days off
Set ambitious safety targets for key measures such as hazard reporting or completing checklists either individual or team-based. If the targets are hit, the goal-hitting employees are rewarded with a paid day off.
- Gift card rewards
Cash gifts might not be practical from a tax perspective, but gift cards are a terrific way of providing a near-equivalent perk. It also has the added bonus of letting employees choose their own gift.
- Charitable donations
Pick a charity that’s meaningful to your employees in some way – perhaps one that’s local to your workplace. It’s a wonderful way to improve safety within the workplace and do some good in the world at the same time!
- Company social event
This could take the form of organizing a company social if targets are hit, such as free lunch or a party. This means the whole team can benefit from the rewards and improved workplace safety.
What are the benefits of safety incentive programs?
- Employee safety
The most obvious benefit of implementing a safety incentive program is an improvement in employee safety. Health and safety measures stop being an administrative burden, done as a check-box exercise, and become something employees are keenly engaged with and are invested in improving.
- Employee motivation
It’s not anyone’s favorite task to be filling in forms and reports, no matter how important they are to safety. Additionally, employees may not be motivated to report safety hazards or near misses. By providing employees with personal and team incentives, it gives them the motivation to not just do the bare minimum but go above and beyond.
- Strengthen teams
Setting team targets is a fantastic way to build a strong employee culture as they work together to hit targets.
- Rewarding honesty
A positive incentive program recognizes individuals for reporting incidents, injuries, hazards, etc. Transparency is often an important business value: actively rewarding those who demonstrate that transparency shows an environment where values are lived and breathed, not just writing on a wall.
- Safety Education
Creating an incentive program builds on the educational foundation of safe workplace activities. It adds another level of safety education and while the safety information might be repeated, hearing the information several times helps ensure that it’s understood by employees.
Focus on Leading Indicators vs Lagging Indicators
While safety incentive programs can be an effective way to build up safety within a workplace, there’s a danger that the focus on hitting certain targets can actually have the opposite effect, by discouraging employees from reporting safety incidents.
For example, imagine a situation where a reward is given for every month where the number of safety incidents is below a certain threshold. An employee might be dissuaded from reporting an accident if it’s nearing the end of a month. This is dangerous as it puts employees at a greater risk and means management teams don’t know the true picture.
Instead, consider focusing safety incentives on leading, rather than lagging indicators. These are programs that are designed to encourage employees to focus on safety-related behaviors rather than results. This could mean rewarding employees for proactively making safety suggestions or taking part in additional safety training, for example.
How do you create a safety incentive program?
Setting up a safety incentive program doesn’t need to be a daunting task. Keep it simple and straightforward. We recommend following a few key steps when creating your program:
- Identify safety hazards and dangers
Audit your existing processes and workplaces to identify hazardous areas and prioritize what needs to be improved.
- Set a budget
Decide realistic incentives based on the available budget.
- Get everyone involved
Bring the team together – after all this is a group activity – and encourage participation from all parties.
- Design and review the program
Design a program with a clear structure. Goals must be clear and measurable so employees know exactly what they need to do to achieve each reward. Remember, the incentive program should not discourage the reporting of safety issues, so set targets accordingly.
- Roll the program out to employees
Once participants are made aware of the program, track progress carefully – especially in the beginning – to iron out any wrinkles.
- Get the feedback and adapt
The program is all about motivating employees, so listen closely to their feedback on what works and what doesn’t. Adapt the program accordingly to ensure it remains effective.
How can Evotix help?
If you’d like to get started with designing a safety incentive program for your workplace, you’ll need the tools to help you track and measure your safety goals. Learn more about how Evotix is ready to help you engage with your people, with staff engagement software.
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