A paycheck is a great motivator for most people to come in to work, but may not encourage them to go above and beyond. Truth is, if you want your workers to be engaged with your safety culture, you may need to give them a reason to get engaged.
An incentive program may just be the push workers need to be more engaged with your business' safety program. Over the years, there has been some debate as to whether or not these actually lead to an increase in productivity and overall worker engagement. So we'll lay out the information, and you can decide whether or not you think it would work for your company.
What is an incentive program?
Incentive programs can take many shapes and forms, but the main concept generally stays the same. Incentives are rewards for a worker's positive behaviours or achievements, such as hitting their sales goal or performing a task with the proper PPE.
Common incentive types include:
- Compensation is usually financial incentives that can be in the form of raises, bonuses, profit sharing, signing bonuses, and stock options.
- Recognition incentives are action based and focus on the achievements of a worker or the company. They typically include thanking and praising employees, presenting employees with a certificate of achievement, or announcing an accomplishment at a company meeting.
- Rewards incentives include items such as gifts, monetary rewards, service award, and items such as gift certificates. An additional example is employee referral awards that some companies use to encourage employees to refer job candidates.
- Appreciation incentives focus on events that celebrate everyone's contributions to the company, such as company parties and celebrations, company paid family activity events, ice cream socials, birthday celebrations, sporting events, paid group lunches, and sponsored sports teams.
Incentive programs, when implemented successfully, can help increase productivity, retain current workers, attract new talent, and keep workers motivated and on track.
What kind of incentive program will work for my business?
First of all, a successful incentive program will be one that fits with the safety culture you have established. What kind of environment and interactions are you trying to build both internally and externally? This may be stating the obvious, but there is probably a huge difference in how most office spaces and construction sites reward their workers.
That being said, it will also depend heavily on how your workers are motivated.
Now, most companies are pretty good at hiring workers that reflect their company culture, so pinning down their motivations should be relatively easy.
Think about how workers would recruit others to join the team. What are the bragging points? Are they talking about their great paycheck? Great colleagues and time to interact socially? Are they excited about flexibility and work/life balance that allows them to take their kids to soccer? If all else fails, don't be afraid to start that conversation with your workers. They will likely be more than happy to tell you what the highlights of the workplace are for them.
Once you have pinned down your culture and what gets your workers motivated, you can start implementing an incentive program that reflects the needs and wants of your business as well as of your workers.
When you get to that point, remember that you aren't locked into using only one method of recognition. Nothing is stopping you from giving out bonuses and still making a big announcement via email, or in a meeting, or giving a reward for safe behaviour, while still throwing a party for an incident-free month/year.
So is it worth it?
If you are willing to put in the time to create a program that works for your workers, you will have better luck than if you implement something generic that they have no interest in. If you're in need of some ideas, we came across this list of successful incentives. If you don't, we'd love to hear what kind of program is working for you!