The Right Rewards Can Help Improve Proactive Employee Safety Programs

28 Sep 2020

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 3 million on-the-job injuries occurred in 2017.1 Although not all are considered serious, more than one-third of on-the-job injuries require time off in order to recover. These incidents can create significant disruptions and costs to your company—and they can place additional stress and even financial hardship on your employees and their families. That’s why a well-designed employee safety program can play an important role in minimizing injuries.
Creating a culture of safety encourages employees to take proactive precautions that result in reduction or elimination of work-related injuries, which improves injury rates overall and, in turn, saves money. Offering safety incentives can lead to greater participation, which can result in a safer workplace—the key is knowing which rewards are most appealing and how frequently they should be offered.

1. Reward positive, proactive activities

Using safety rewards can encourage whole teams or shifts to work together to achieve proactive safety goals. Depending upon your specific work environment, there are a wide variety of activities that can be rewarded with points (that can later be exchanged for rewards) or directly with incentives. Here are some ideas:

  • Completing safety inspections on time
  • Staying current on employee safety training
  • Reporting no vehicle accidents in the shop
  • Attending safety meetings
  • Submitting suggestions for improving safety in the workplace
  • Conducting safety audits
  • Participating in safety training
  • Serving on a safety committee
  • Wearing required PPE consistently over a certain period of time

2. Offer rewards your employees really want

Let’s be honest: trophies, trinkets and t-shirts aren’t the most desirable rewards for workers in your warehouses, on factory lines, out in the field or transporting materials. According to an Incentive magazine study, 8 out of 10 employees prefer reward or gift cards over other incentives.2 Consider the advantages that Mastercard® and Visa® Reward Cards offer:

• Create a branded Mastercard or Visa Reward Card with your logo, and your employees will be reminded that they received this reward from you
• Add your employees’ names to the cards for an extra personal touch
• Include a brief message (e.g., STAY SAFE) on the card as a reminder of how the reward was earned
• Give your employees spending flexibility since these cards can be used everywhere the networks’ cards are accepted
• Mastercard or Visa Virtual Accounts—the digital version of plastic cards that can be used online everywhere the applicable network’s cards are accepted—can arrive quickly via an email you can customize and personalize

2. Reward frequency keeps safety top of mind

In our experience, giving one lump sum reward at the end of the year is not as effective as more frequent rewards. And by frequent, we mean monthly or quarterly—although the right cadence depends upon your company’s specific measurements and goals.
When it comes to safety rewards, you and your senior leadership should balance the value of safety versus the cost of an on-the-job injury. A proactive approach to incident prevention in the workplace is good for the bottom line and demonstrates a strong commitment to the well-being of your organization’s employees. With a strong safety culture, rewards do not have to be large to be meaningful and memorable.

3. Read this safety incentive program success story

Learn how one of the oldest specialty wholesale food distributors in the US and Canada turned an unsuccessful once-a-year driver safety bonus into a successful points-based safety incentive strategy that now has 100% participation. After implementing their new program, 85 percent of all drivers meet the requirements every month to receive their full reward, and 50 percent actively redeem points for rewards.

The 2018 numbers speak for themselves:

  • 13 percent decrease in accidents or incidents
  • 15 percent decrease in unsafe driving behaviour
  • 29,072,564 total points earned
  • 1,029 total number of redemptions (88 percent were gift cards)

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