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News & Press: IMA News & Press Releases

Does Your Safety Incentive Program Need More Carrot and Less Stick?

Friday, June 9, 2017  

Safety Training is the best way to ensure your procedures are understood and a great way to reinforce safe behaviors. It reinforces your safety goals and reminds participants about the impacts of not achieving those goals.

By Deb Broderson

When it comes to safety programs, we've all heard people say, "It doesn't matter what we do, nothing changes." However, when done correctly, safety programs create a safer work environment, higher morale and increased employee engagement.

One of the issues that plague safety programs is a singular focus on reducing accidents instead of addressing the behaviors that cause accidents and then building a program/plan that addresses the core problems. Building a behavior-based program is a more comprehensive, holistic approach that incorporates intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, training, communications and rewards.

Considerations around intrinsic and extrinsic motivators are often overlooked in the design of ta safety program, but they are an important element to success. Research shows that financial (extrinsic) motivators can reduce the effect of meeting intrinsic goals when they are not balanced. in addition, intrinsic motivators such as learning new skills, nurturing intellectual curiosity, and enjoying tasks are critical to keeping employees engaged and motivated in their job. 

Extrinsic motivation does not equate to giving a cash reward; in fact, cash is not a motivator. it has no trophy value and it's typically paid out in a paycheck, which means it gets blended into a salary (which ultimately means that it will be used to pay bills). In one study by the Incentive Marketing Association, it was documented that 18 percent of cash recipients could not recall how they spent their cash and another 40 percent used the cash to pay for bills and household items -- not very engaging. 

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