Monday, August 1, 2011

Money – safety incentives

A topic that never seems to go away is safety incentives. One of our survey questions deals with the concept of whether employees would work more safely if they were paid more for doing so? Once again today a customer posed this question as it is a frequent battleground for the 900 or so separate organizations they are responsible to assist with safety.

My opinion on the matter continues to undergo some adjustment as I work with various safety cultures around the globe. Last week in New Orleans, Louisiana I was presented with a new safety incentive wrinkle. The construction organization that had me on site brought up the question as they described paying the one lucky employee each quarter whose name was pulled out of the hat (if the total organization had no lost time injuries). The smiling employee came up front and was given a $100 credit card which was activated after they had passed a drug screening!!! Amazingly no employee in their organization had failed a drug screen for more than two years. Hmmmm….this bears some more thought.

You all have heard of the 80-20 Pareto principle that 80% of your problems are concentrated in 20% of your occurrences. In this case, I think monetary incentives are more like 1% and one-on-one contacts dealing with genuine feedback for a job well done are the other 99%. The 1% monetary reward occurs when a significant downstream milestone is accomplished. The milestone is not publicized before it occurs, so people don’t hide injuries. The people in the safety culture do not tolerate employees not reporting all injuries and the hourly and salaried leadership concentrates on credible positive one-on-one reinforcement of the people in the work culture who continually do things right from a safety standpoint.

Frequent one-on-one contacts are worth more than money. And sensitivity to the local culture helps if you do not have to compromise principles, values and ethics.

The Doc

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