Skip Navigation

Do's/Don'ts: Effective Safety Incentive Program

Incentive programs are designed to encourage employees practice safe job behaviors. However, if the program isn't designed or implemented correctly, it will do little to truly reduce injuries or illnesses. In fact, poor program design and management can mask problems by encouraging underreporting and ignoring the root causes of workplace accidents. If your organization is considering a safety incentive program, keep these guidelines in mind: 

Measure Success

Don't base awards, rewards, celebrations or other employee incentives on injury or accident rates. Rewards based on these factors discourage full and timely reporting, which complicates accident investigations and can hide trends that should be addressed. 

Do base rewards on completion of safety tasks or actions intended to reduce injuries, such as attending safety meetings, reporting near misses or making safety suggestions. If safe behavior is adequately and properly incentivized, the desired behaviors should increase. 

Be Comprehensive 

Don't use an employee safety incentive program as a main component of, or in place of, a comprehensive safety program or other safety efforts. 

Do develop a comprehensive safety program before implementing an incentive program. A comprehensive program should: 

  • Assess organization's risks and needs
  • Establish and communicate management's commitment to safety
  • Form joint task force to encourage cooperation and buy-in
  • Provide training for all supervisors and managers
  • Conduct regular worksite analyses to chart progress
  • Correct unsafe conditions and acts
  • Perform effective accident investigations
  • Implement workers' compensation claims management
  • Perform regular analysis of accomplishments and needs

Consider the Cost 

Don't underestimate the cost of the program. 

Do be sure the funding of the program is sustainable. Eliminating the program due to its cost can cause employee backlash.

Be Consistent

Don't change the program frequently or without good cause. Changing the "rules of the game" can negatively impact morale if the rewards are suddenly more difficult to obtain or less valuable. 

Do make sure you have planned out a program that the organization can follow for an extended time. Any changes should be clearly communicated to employees. 

Keep It Simple

Don't make the program overly complicated. Misunderstandings can undermine the effectiveness of the program and negatively impact morale. 

Do make sure that all awards and the criteria for receiving them are clearly communicated and easily understood. 

Be Realistic and Prompt

Don't make the target too high or the awards too low.

Don't put off giving awards when the time comes. 

Do make sure the expectations are reasonable and reachable. Awards should be valuable enough to motivate most employees.

Do give rewards promptly when goals are met.

Be Patient

Don't expect too much too soon. It is irrational to expect that the program will immediately or entirely eliminate unsafe behaviors, workplace accidents and injuries. 

Do anticipate that it will take time for the program to improve behavior, which will hopefully result in fewer accidents and injuries.

Contact Us

Have a question about safety or our loss control services? Email us.

Hands typing on a laptop keyboard