There’s a lot of controversy around safety incentive programs. Do they encourage under reporting? Are they meant to take the place of a safety program? Do employees feel peer pressure about reporting incidents? The reality is that incentive programs cannot exist in isolation. They are meant to complement an overall effort to create a safer workplace, build a culture of safety and have a positive impact on the bottom line. When structured and managed properly, they can motivate employees to work safely.
Safety incentive programs are not one-and-done efforts. To succeed, they need to be well thought out, properly launched and continuously promoted. Here are 5 ways that communication can strengthen your safety incentive program to drive engagement and results.
5 ways that communication can strengthen your safety incentive program
1. Create context.
Even the best-designed safety incentive program cannot take the place of a complete functioning safety program. The ultimate goal is to create a workplace culture that emphasizes safety. It needs to be evidenced all across the organization: starting with senior management and tying into processes, attitudes and actions from training, hiring, investing in safety equipment, new technology and other departments.
Your safety incentive program is just one component of the overall strategy and needs to be positioned as such. How does it support the company’s overall safety objectives? What KPIs are most critical and how will the incentive program affect those metrics? These need to be made clear to everyone at the launch of the program. Paint the bigger picture and help everyone see themselves in it.
2. Make it a collaborative effort.
Successful safety incentive programs depend on a high level of employee engagement. Involving employees in both the development and implementation of the safety incentive program supports transparency and lets them know that you value their ideas. Enlist their input on measurement, rewards and employee safety recognition. Who better than your employees to know what kinds of rewards will motivate them? With four generations in the workforce, you’ll want to get that right. Is it gift cards, logoed merchandise, plaques, award ceremonies, a combination?
Don’t miss the opportunity to let everyone know who is on the planning team. Acknowledge the team, remind everyone of their role and let them know that they are well represented. When the program is designed by and for the employees and is in support of the company’s safety program, it can help improve motivation to stay safe.
3. Communicate across all channels.
In environments where safety is most critical (construction, manufacturing, trucking, sanitation, etc.), reaching workers and keeping them informed can be a challenge. Many are not near a computer, cannot use their smartphones or don’t have company email. This requires a creative approach to reach them and make them feel included. Use as many channels as you can: email, posters, flyers, newsletters, electronic message boards, texts, intranet, toolbox talks, meetings, etc.
Visual communication is one of the most effective ways to get everyone’s attention. Many companies use workplace digital signage to keep employees informed. It offers a visual communication channel that can be used to announce and promote your safety incentive program, recognize winners and post results. And it’s a great platform for displaying ongoing KPIs in real time, providing a quick snapshot of your company’s progress.
4. Promote, promote, promote.
The key to keeping your safety incentive program alive is ongoing promotion. While promotion is a form of communication, it has a slightly different objective. Think of it as ongoing publicity for your safety program and the results it is driving. It needs to inform, motivate and inspire a sense of fun. Of course, you’ll want to make a big splash when you first announce your program. Have senior management emcee the event, showing their commitment to safety. Make it a celebratory event with signs, food, music, balloons and promotional items.
Equally important is how you promote the program consistently over time, keeping it fun and engaging. Take an inventory of all the opportunities you have for promoting the program – town hall meetings, stand-ups, company picnics, reminder messages on electronic message boards, social media, posters throughout the facility and more.
5. Recognize individuals and teams.
Prizes are great, but public and personal recognition goes a long way in making people feel valued. The more often you can recognize individuals or teams for supporting your safety efforts, the more it becomes embedded in the culture. Workplace safety recognition programs come in many forms. Create a safety star hall of fame with framed photos. Use digital signage to post pictures or short videos showcasing winners.
Don’t limit workplace safety recognition to your safety incentive programs. Recognize other efforts that support your overall culture of safety such as acknowledging safety training certifications, thanking employees for proactive safety suggestions, and congratulations winners of quarterly safety quizzes. Don’t forget spot recognition by managers when they catch employees working safely, using the right equipment or using safe work practices. Personal notecards are a simple and inexpensive way to let someone know that you appreciate their efforts in staying safe.
Take a fresh look at your safety incentive program. It’s never too late to relaunch it and keep it alive and well with strong communication.
Improve Your Safety Incentive Program with Digital Signage
Deliver the important safety messages that keep your employees informed and motivated with Marlin’s Electronic Communication Station (ECS). Address key issues like teamwork, quality, diversity, and job safety along with news, sports, and weather to keep them engaged and coming back. Learn more here.