— Use incentives to reward positive behaviors.Do not use incentives to reward activity that is passive. Companies can and do waste a ton of money to reward employees simply for doing what is expected.

— Rewarded employees for:
  • Voluntary participation on a safety committee where actions have been completed
  • Participating in a safety inspection where significant hazards were identified
  • Attending a monthly safety meeting for say 12 consecutive months
  • Voluntarily teaching a skills class
  • Being able to successfully answer a safety question culled from an employee training program (hint: if the employee does NOT know the answer, it is time to re-train)
  • Completing a safety training class.
— Never ever tie an incentive plan to the total case incident or the lost workday case rate.
Managers who do that are lazy and will only perpetuate forgery of accident records.

Steve Damsker, loss control representative

— Use the term “recognition program” or something like “awareness promotion.”

— If you reward for results also reward for process.
If a site or unit achieves a good result it must be supported by a quality prevention process.

— Accept that a recognition program is useful for aiding in visibility and interest.
Understand that there should be other ways to achieve and maintain that interest but use any tools you can.

— The important point is that a recognition program be a part of a comprehensive program to prevent injuries and illnesses.

Tom Lawrence, CSP, PE, Principal, Risk, Reliability and Safety Engineering, St. Louis, Mo.

— Beware:
Too often, safety incentive programs fall into the category of being a “panacea, fad, quick fix, or cure-all” for some deeper seeded issue within the organization, possibly having absolutely nothing to do with safety.

— Beware:
Lacking an ability to "deal effectively with complexity" causes individuals to "simplify reality and turn to fundamentalism; in corporations, they turn to panaceas.”

— Go out and fairly and empirically evaluate your safety incentive program
as to its sustainability over time, its effectiveness toward truly improving safety performance, along with its overall affect (i.e., interactions) on the other essential parts of the organization.

James Leemann, Ph.D., adjunct professor, Tulane University’s Center for Applied Environmental Public Health, and President, The Leemann Group LLC, Scottsdale, Ariz.

— So many safety pros misuse the terms “incentive, reward, and reinforcer.”
Clarify that incentives announce the availability of a positive consequence following a certain behavior. They are antecedents, and are only as influential as the consequence.

— A reward is the positive consequence following the desired behavior.
A penalty is a negative consequence following an undesirable behavior.

—Rewards, penalties, reinforcers, and punishers decrease intrinsic motivation.
Is that bad? Extrinsic consequences are detrimental in the long-run only if the behavior has a chance of being influenced solely by intrinsic consequences.

— Safety requires many inconvenient and uncomfortable behaviors,
which will never be reinforced with intrinsic consequences. Thus, incentives and rewards are often helpful for these kinds of behavior, but if you take these extrinsic motivators away, the behavior will revert to earlier levels.

— It is not necessary to remove extrinsic consequences.
Take “frequent flyer points” as an example. If those frequent flyer points were taken away, I would select an airline that offers frequent flyer points. If no airline does that, I will use another criterion for my choice. Note, there are times when I will not consider the points but rather the convenience of the travel arrangements. This is the power of intrinsic consequences.

Scott Geller, Ph.D., Alumni Distinguished Professor, Director, Center for Applied Behavior Systems Department of Psychology, Virginia Tech

— Introduce incentives only if they are based on a solid safety process.

— Do not reward injury avoidance and similar end results that do not require some positive effort.

— Do reward positive safety achievements
such as meeting a new level of observed safe behavior and completing certain necessary safety tasks.

— Follow the rules for performance management
— short term, low value, personal to the individual, and specific to desired behavior.

— Make sure that the individuals actually control the means to achieve the reward.
In other words, don’t penalize a group for individual failure. Even more important, don’t penalize others for your failure.

— Have some fun!
Post the results, have parties or cake and coffee, celebrate, use incentives as the icing on a very good cake.

Lawrence “Chip” Dawson, EHS trainer and consultant for the Rochester, N.Y. Business Alliance

— Do not allow your “program” to devolve into gamesmanship
with everyone trying not to be the one who might ruin it for others or be the goat.

— Managers and supervisors need to understand intrinsic motivation
and how they should be supporting this type of motivation in positive ways. Factors might include: a feeling of accomplishment; feeling that one is making a valuable contribution; a sense of self worth; pride that comes with accomplishment; knowledge that one has the respect and trust of one's boss and peers; the feeling that one is in on plans and decisions; opportunity to have a say in how one's job is accomplished; and knowledge that one’s opinion and ideas are valued. Aren’t you motivated by these feelings?

—Realize that achieving safe performance is a people-oriented process.
Managers and supervisors must learn to manage the challenge of achieving safe performance, just like they manage achieving excellence in quality, productivity and service performance.

— An effort to develop a rewards program must not be seen as, or become, thee safety program.
An existing culture that supports, values and recognizes safe performance must be in place and functioning reasonably well before contemplating rewards or “incentives.”

— If a decision is made to embrace an extrinsic rewards approach,
it is important that program design links recognition/reward to personal performance and not incident statistics, and tees up the program with a publicized short-term completion date.

— Reward approaches could provide a valuable emotional stimulus for your organization if:
the organization’s safety systems are designed well and functioning well; if managers and supervisors understand the wisdom of intrinsic motivation; if the culture of the organization values and supports safe performance.

Ted Ingalls, Performance Management Consultants, Goodyear, Ariz.

— Gimmicks quickly loose the flash
and become dull, non-delivering entitlements.

— Focus on changing activities that help to eliminate injuries, i.e., accountabilities.

— Without upper management involvement the system degrades.
Implement Dr. Dan Petersen’s Six Criteria of Safety excellence:
  • Visible upper management commitment (they do audits and participate in the celebrations)
  • Active middle management involvement (the servers at the events and the checkers of quality and quantity of supervisor accountabilities)
  • Focused supervisor performance (the 4-6 activities that are consistently done and that can be changed to freshen the program)
  • Active hourly participation (the 4-6 activities that are consistently done and that can be changed to freshen the program)
  • Program flexibility (Different accountabilities and different rewards based on the work group)
  • Positively viewed by the workforce (Do interviews from time to time to make sure your reward system doesn’t turn stale).
Mike Williamsen, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Consulting, Core Media