*This post was first published on 28th February 2017. I have updated and republished it.
A Safety Incentive Program?
What a fabulous way to improve your safety culture, get everyone at work involved in safety activities and talking about them! Who wouldn’t like to receive an award or a gift for their contribution and commitment to Safety? I would!
However, having a Safety Incentive Program (referred to as SIP throughout this article), can easily turn into a nightmare especially when it becomes unhealthy competition.
If SIP is not properly introduced, monitored and managed, people will take all manner of actions, and do all manner of fraudulent things just to get the price. This unwanted evil acts (yep I refer to bad things as evil lol), will undermine your existing safety system if you allow them to fester.
So in this post, I will share ways to help your organisation build a SIP that does not interfere with, and/or undermine your safety arrangements.
But first. Is your organisation truly and honestly committed to safety?
Or do you do it just to tick boxes or please the authorities or management?
Is your organisation one that commits by providing and allowing resources, and time to take care of its safety needs?
Or is safety done just to get it out of the way, meet legal requirements? Or because you really want a safety culture where everyone is valued and cared for?
An organisation that provides time and resources is one that values safety.
Resources can be in terms of providing equipment, tools, training and manpower – they are never free! Have a budget and a safety plan/strategy if you are going to be able to fully commit via time and resources.
Time is usually in form of being physically present to support safety incentives and even attending training! If management is there to show their support, be committed and lead by example, it is easier for employees to buy onto the safety vision.
Safety isn’t something the junior staff member do. I have observed that leadership often feel they do not need to be involved. This is the number 1 problem companies have.
How involved are your employees in safety?
Firstly, employees need to see safety as part of their responsibility. I always say safety must be added to employment terms and conditions. That is, everyone must ensure they at least fulfil the moral side to safety, and consider how their actions impact other people.
Employees need to understand that everyone has a part to play when it comes to keeping the workplace safe. Get them trained first. Knowing why it is necessary will help get your SIP off the ground and running smoothly.
For your SIP to be successful, employees must buy into your vision to have safety as the most important part of their role in the organization. So when creating a SIP, let it be based on employee engagement with safety rather than the number of times they experienced an incident or a near miss.
Employees need to first focus on themselves and their actions, and understand the need for them to be personally involved before taking the next step to start observing their environment.
Personally, I believe that I they are focused on observations, they miss the big picture as they will be bothered about having huge numbers and hopefully the highest, just so that they can win. This will lead to deceit and possibly dangerous acts like planting fake evidence or putting other at risk.
If they are focused on being a huge part of Safety via engagement, then observations will come naturally without them sweating to achieve it. They will understand that their actions as individuals matter a lot.
Getting your employee involved and engaged proves to everyone that safety is more important than the SIP. The SIP is just a plus.
But how do you measure engagement and decide who wins?
You can use a score board or chart. Come up with a list of things they can be engaged in, that are relevant to your workplace.
For example, every week an assigned individual can give a safety talk or presentation to the team on a topic of their choice. They then get scored by all present (peer review) based on delivery, audience involvement, innovation, fun etc. These scores should be recorded and kept. At the end of the quarter or year, you review and reward the person with the highest score. Let the chart be seen by all to help with the spirit of competition. The next person will obviously work harder to try outdo the previous.
Decide how you are going to award them. A bonus at the end of the year? A small ceremony at work with lots of food and drinks aimed at positive reinforcement, or the team having fun together with the winner as king/queen for the week or month? It doesn’t always have to be monetary reward.
If you choose to reward them with a party, ensure it is at lunch time or after work hours where the work for the day is done and there are no distractions. Having a celebration during work hours leave people distracted and prone to accidents.
What do you think?
As explained above, before building a SIP you must consider 2 very important factors – commitment from management/organisation and employee engagement. Put these into consideration before launching a SIP.
Why not come up with a Safety Incentive Program idea using both commitment from your management team and employee engagement to drive safety in your organisation? How are you going to reward your employees? What criteria will you use to choose the winner? You can share it here!