Thursday, December 2, 2010

Incentive Programs?

I've been seeing some great questions on LinkedIn lately, and decided to answer a couple via a blog post. 

Christopher W., Safety Director at Stansell Electric Co., Inc. asked:

What are your feelings related to incentive programs as a part of the safety program? 

I am sure you have accessed all kinds of negatives and positives from others on safety incentive programs.  I have seen a number of incentive systems used by organizations we have worked with in many different countries.  From this, my personal sample I have found two types of incentives that have a measureable positive influence on a safety culture:

A downstream indicator celebration event:  This type of safety incentive is an unannounced celebration when a milestone event occurs.  A typical downstream indicator safety milestone would be something like ‘One Million Hours Worked Without an Injury.’  The leadership of the organization waits until the milestone is achieved and then holds a significant celebration for all employees, like a catered meal.  If they hype the event before it occurs people have a tendency to hide injuries and this is not a positive safety culture characteristic.  The celebration is not a matter of money or the typical ‘trinkets and trash.’  Rather it is upper management, hourly and salaried safety leadership visibly and personally thanking all those in the organization for delivering an injury free culture.

Daily visible, felt, personal feedback for doing the job safely and correctly.  This is an upstream indicator that is far more effective than all the meals and gadgets given out for injury rates.  Each level of an organization develops safety accountabilities that become their own leading indicators.  Some of these indicators for each level include giving personal feedback to others for demonstrating the presence of an individual’s correct safety culture.  In this way personal, positive, real and effective one-on-one contacts provide the incentive (positive reinforcement) to continue living a zero incident safety culture.  This is the low cost, highly effective safety incentive program I prefer

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