It is the beginning of the new year and you have been tasked with designing and implementing a new safety recognition program. Maybe you are thinking, “Where do I begin!? How do I make this program achieves our goals?”

After 18 years of designing safety recognition criteria for thousands of companies, I feel I’ve seen it all.

I have certainly learned that at the end of the day, a successful safety recognition program boils down to the following nine actions. Try them out and you’ll be sure to have a great year!

1. Don’t just dangle a carrot

Create an entire campaign. The use of program posters that communicate and create excitement paired with monthly newsletters promoting employee involvement is key. Creating a campaign around your program boosts your safety recognition program to the next level. This results in stronger participation and return on investment.

2. Give workers a choice

Everyone likes choices so in regards to the “dangling carrot,” make sure you are giving workers the opportunity to choose what they want instead of using the “one size fits all” mentality. Offering a selection of desired items will build what we call “trophy value.” You’ll get a bigger bang for your buck this way. In addition to providing awards that everyone can win, try adding a “grand prize” element to the mix as well. This way you can capture the interest of all employees. It seems that some employees like the opportunity to earn the smaller “everyone wins” carrot and others prefer the opportunity to win the big sweepstakes-type prize.

3. Reward frequently

When you offer frequent rewards, such as on a weekly basis, it allows you to keep safety awareness and your accident reduction goals in front of the employees constantly while reinforcing positive behaviors and building a safety culture.

4. Reward individuals and teams

When designing your criteria, include both individual and team rewarding. Put the main emphasis on the individual and keep it to no more than two measurable activities. An example of criteria for an individual would be to keep in compliance with all company safety policies or participate in all of the safety training for the week. If you tie too many activities of criteria together to earn one reward, people will give up. Then, put in place a monthly team criteria tied to an easy-to-measure activity such as 100 percent team participation in monthly safety meetings or training.

5. Everyone wins

Successful recognition programs will reward everyone who achieves the established goals. When you are able to reward everyone, this takes the element of chance out of the equation and renders stronger program results.

6. Engage employees

Make sure you are involving the employees in the development of both the safety recognition program and the criteria that is put in place. You can accomplish this by involving your safety committee in the goal-setting process. If you do not have a safety committee, assemble a mixture of employees from different departments to help set up the goals.

7. Get management involved

Make sure that management and supervisors are driving the program and continually promoting the program to their employees. We typically see that when the supervisors or managers can get out on the floor and personally thank the employees for working safely, it results in a more safety-conscious workforce.

8. Communicate clear goals

Make sure that clear goals have been set. Everyone from management to the line employee needs to understand what the goals for the recognition program are along with understanding why you are running the program in the first place. Everyone must “buy in” to the goals or they will not be achieved.

9. Keep it easy

In today’s work environment, everyone is wearing multiple hats of responsibility so having a recognition program that requires a lot of additional administration is not an option. Programs with heavy administration often cause a loss in focus and complete program failure.

Now…. go and assemble your team. It’s time to get that safety recognition program in place and conquer 2012!