Incentives… we all want them. From earning $.05 cents off a gallon of gas after spending $100 dollars food shopping to receiving 50,000 sky miles for signing up for that “Free” credit card on a flight to Vegas We all love when we think we are getting something for “free”.  But are these incentives really “free”?  What is the true cost of  50,000 sky miles or $.05 cents off a gallon of gas   cost  the promoting company.  From the companies perspective, the cost associated with the discount, miles, or points pale in comparison to the objective to drive and change our behavior.  

Bottom line is that we all love the loyalty points and awards regardless of how big or small they might be. We love the instant gratification of getting something for nothing and taking advantage of the “Man”. In turn the “man” is  banking on our greed, our competitiveness, and desire for something for nothing.   So, what is the real reason these companies have endless promotions for gas points or make each flight attendant stand up and ask everyone on the plane if we would like yet another credit card?

The real reason is, wait for it. to alter our behavior to do something they want us to do.  And guess what, it works amazing. I have found myself in a parking lot of a local grocery store, in the pouring rain with a screaming child,  just to drive another 5 miles in the opposite direction, so I could get double gas points with my $50.00 purchase.  Pretty powerful stuff isn’t it.

So, we have established that incentives, big and small, motivate people to change their behavior in the strangest of ways.  When businesses have a nagging pain point such as too many incidents on the job, or the employees are not paying attention to basic safety protocols.  Why wouldn’t they subscribe to the same mind melding psychology millions of other companies already know to work?  Incentives make people pay attention.  They make us do things we would never think about doing otherwise.  They change our behavior is such a way, they make us feel great about doing it.  All along the real winner in all of this, as you can guess is everyone.  Think about it, the company gets me to do something, change my behavior so I will buy groceries at their store, they make revenue and the wheel turns.  I on the other hand make these silly little gas points, I redeem my points and go home all proud and tell my wife I saved  $.50 cents a gallon, which ends up being like $8 bucks.  We all win, and we should all be happy about it.

Same thing goes in the safety world we live in. If I were the company, I would want to change the behavior of my employees which is costing me money. Take one our clients as an example, the business has 5,000 safety sensitive people with an average 1.5 accidents a day costing an average $15,000 each accident. Quick math, over the year, that would cost me as the “Man” roughly $8 million a year. Not to mention all the other costs associated with injuries, insurance premiums, death claims, new hires, training, etc.  So, what if me, as the “Man,” provided my safety employees an “incentive“ for being safer or paying attention on the job? I provide safety training, develop a culture, give them monthly points for being safe, and on the spot points for doing something good.  All in, this costs me roughly $400 dollars an employee, which gives them a sense of purpose, keeps them engaged and motivated on an on-going basis.  The employee’s points can be redeemed for tangible merchandise which is memorable and makes the employee feel valued every time they use that kayak or grill or blender. The net results a reduction in your turnover of 10%  and/or your accident rate goes down 25%, Keeping in mind a reduction in  accidents alone can pay for the program year one and still  generate a return.

So…who does this benefit?  EVERYONE!

In economic terms, the multiplier effect refers to the proportional increase or decrease in final income that results from an injection or withdrawal of capital. In terms of Safety Reward Programs, the multiplier effect might refer to the ROI² (Return on Incentive Investment). A properly structured program significantly impacts overall employee engagement and safety culture, where employees are attuned to safety-related issues, inspired to display “Above & Beyond” safe behaviors, willing to be safety ambassadors, and encouraged to promote learning and support continuous improvement. Such best-in-class programs are designed to promote group objectives and reward individual behavior, engaging, motivating, and rewarding the people behind your success.

Fortunately, there are thousands of companies in high-risk industries that have excellent safety programming, training, and coaching in place. Many include safety in their list of core values and have invested heavily in EHS (Environment, Health, and Safety) technology, training, telematics, and personnel. However, too many miss the opportunity to incentivize and recognize individual safety contributions, behaviors, and performance.

Programs featuring tangible and experiential awards as the reward currency can have a multiplying effect that pays dividends. Benefits include a more highly engaged workforce, fewer accidents and incidents, reduced claims and losses, lower turnover and absenteeism, better communication, increased productivity, visibility to leading and lagging indicators, incremental coaching and training opportunities, and improved profitability.

So, what’s the rub? Are engagement programs focused on employee safety, health, and wellness expensive to implement? Do they only make sense for companies with thousands of safety-sensitive workers? The answer to both questions is no. Properly structured programs can be cost-effective and right-sized for companies with as few as 100 safety-sensitive workers up to those with 10,000 or more. The ROI² of these programs can be expressed as a ratio (in this case, 4:1), with quantitative results showing a savings of $4.00 for every $1.00 invested and qualitative results revealing higher employee morale, which serves as a catalyst for productivity. Safety Reward Programs help to mitigate risk, elevate employee engagement, and improve overall safety culture. They also present an excellent opportunity for companies to simply say thank you to their employees for being safe, committed, and engaged.

People have an inherent need to know that their efforts do not go unnoticed. Safety Reward Programs provide the stimulus and energy that encourage employees to perform at their best and achieve new heights.



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