Promoting Safety
Guidelines For Doing It Right

Reprinted from Industrial Safety & Hygiene News By Bill Sims, Jr.

The following "do's and don'ts" for safety promotion programs will help put your own program on the right track.

Starting Up

Do define your goals. This is the first step in setting up an effective safety promotion program. These programs involve two steps:
  1. Educating and motivating employees to do what you want them to do (for example, using seat belts);
  2. Rewarding employees when they achieve the desired result.
What do you want to accomplish? Once you have defined specific goals (increase safety meeting attendance from 60 to 90 percent, reduce recordable injuries 20 percent), you have a baseline to measure against.
Do solicit input and support from your top management, supervisors, and key hourly employees. Use your safety committee to help you plan your program. (What areas will you focus on? What are your realistic goals?) Don't spring the program on them as "your idea" -- give them ownership in it.
Don't expect your incentive program to cover up bad safety management. If your firm has a history of starting programs that are never sustained, you'll have an uphill battle gaining employee support for your new safety promotion. Are supervisors committed to safety? Do they practice the same safety dogma they preach?
Do plan, plan and re-plan. Don't rush into a program without understanding the time demands that a program places on you and your supervisors. How much time will it take to keep the program running? Will you need additional clerical people?

Of course you can't just start a program and walk away from it. But you can save time by turning over some of the more mundane program details to an outside promotional firm. These operations can design programs, do clever direct mailings to employees' homes, and send gifts and reward items directly to the home.

Don't expect too much. Too often, companies start promotion programs and expect "the Big Bang" of drastic accident reductions. After just a few months with little improvement, they become discouraged and discontinue their programs. Commit to your program for the long haul, and ask advice from other safety directors if you feel your program isn't what it needs to be.

While many firms do experience dramatic results (40 to 60 percent reductions in accidents are common for first-time incentive programs) solid results take time Usually, safety awareness campaigns (posters and newsletters focusing on a series of safety topics such as electrical safety, driving safety, off-the-job safety) should be planned n one-year increments. Safety incentive/recognition programs (rewarding the positive results of safety awareness) should be planned in one-to-two-year increments.

Giving gifts

Don't try to buy safety. Don't focus too much on the gift--while it needs to be appealing, quality, and valued, don't establish a dangerous employee mindset-the "what-are-you-gonna-give-me-this-time-if-I'm- safe" attitude. Don't let your incentive program become a compensation program.

Of course, incentive awards can work, but not alone. They need the reinforcement of newsletters, posters, safety meetings, etc.

Do focus on the accomplishment. Keep the employee's mind on the importance of his safety accomplishment, rather than on the value of his gift. Recognition awards require that you crate an atmosphere of deep respect and thanks for a job safely done. Thus, when the safe employee receives their safety award, it is secondary to the warm feeling he or she gets when a superior shakes their hand, pats them on the back, and says "Thanks!" The gift becomes a tangible reminder of that event in the same way your favorite song reminds you of old times and dear friends.

Planning a Program

Don't try the shotgun approach. Don't try to promote a half dozen safety topics at once - putting up posters about wearing safety glasses, holding a safety meeting on slips and falls, and giving out key chains to all employees promoting seat belt safety while all of your accidents are back injuries. Employees are left confused. Which areas are most important?
Do use the rifle approach. Based on supervisor and employee input, accident records, compensation claims, etc., pick one area of safety you want to work on each month. Coordinate every single awareness activity around that topic. Hand out newsletters that explain it. Have a hand safety slogan contest. Show a hand safety video and give all attendees a first aid kit for attending.
Do decide what behaviors you will reward. This can encompass much more than days worked safely and fewer accidents. Olin Chemical was able to motivate four of five employees who previously never came to the monthly safety meetings by tying attendance to their recognition program. South Carolina Electric & Gas tied their safety suggestion program to a comprehensive recognition program. In the first month of the program the utility received five times as many suggestions as the entire previous year!
Don't rely totally on group achievements for awards. Group awards require that an entire plant or department reach a specific goal (hours worked safely, etc.) for everyone to receive a reward. When one person fails, everyone is discouraged and you have a rash of sudden injuries. Use group awards to create valuable peer pressure within reason. Integrate group awards into your strategy so that employees take time to watch out for others and themselves.
Do use individual rewards. They help counteract the pitfalls of group awards. The best recognition programs are those with the proper "mix" of goals for your operation.
Don't use prize drawings as your sole reward strategy. Too often, busy safety directors fall prey to the seductive lure of one big prize -- buy a car, and raffle it off to all safe employees. Obviously, the person who wins the car loves it; everyone else hates it. These type programs leave lots of people unhappy. If you wish to give away some random gifts, give many gifts, not few. Run this in tandem with other reward strategies.
Do consider special incentives for safety- minded middle managers. The backbone of any safety program is the middle manager. Have a special reward plan for this key player.

Getting Feedback

Do check hourly and supervisory employee attitudes halfway through a program. Do you need to make changes? Ask them how they feel the program is doing. If they feel it's not working, what changes would they like to see made?
Don't forget your goals. Three quarters through the program, pull out the "mission statement" you drafted when you started planning. Are you reaching your goals? You may not hit all goals exactly as you planned, but your overall gain should be evident. Try to decide now whether to continue or improve the program.

Administering an effective incentive program requires that all of these steps be taken and then repeated over and over. Safety recognition then becomes not a "flash in the pan" or a "gimmick" but a continual process of systematically singling out behavior to improve to make your organization more competitive.

Smart safety directors understand that creating an effective program requires time, experience, and perhaps help from outside. The payoff is solid, substantial gains in improved morale, reduced human suffering, and major savings in work injury costs.

According to a study of 4,500 companies titled, "People, Performance and Pay" by the American Productivity Center and American Compensation Association, you would have to spend three times as much in cash to produce the same results generated by non-cash awards. This is surprising to some, however, upon comparison, it becomes evident why non-cash awards are more effective.

Personal Enjoyment & Appeal

Cash: While people initially talk about exciting uses for cash awards, the money typically ends up being used for existing financial needs (bills, children, tuition, retirement/savings plans). The proper use of cash awards often become a source of family conflict. In light of these obligations, it's difficult for the earner to enjoy cash for personal pleasure without guilt feelings.
Non-Cash: Non-cash awards, such as golf clubs or stereo equipment, appeal to and satisfy an individual's need for personal indulgence and enjoyment. Non-cash awards provide the rare opportunity for an individual to enjoy his/her awards earnings free of guilt or conflict.

Trophy Value

Cash: No lasting reminder of achievement. earned, then spent. Most people cannot remember what they bought with their cash award because it was used for bills or other necessities.
Non-Cash: The award earned is a tangible, permanent symbol of the individual's achievement. A person can enjoy the social recognition of "showing it off." It's perfectly acceptable to "brag about" a home gym earned through extra effort at work. With cash, bragging is considered to be in poor taste.

Motivational Impact

Cash: Often becomes mentally linked to compensation and, unfortunately, becomes viewed as an entitlement. As such, cash then becomes a less than ideal motivator. Also, cash awards can even result in performance declines. For example, an employee may average $300 a week compensation. A cash incentive program that offers a $300 bonus means he can STAY HOME FROM WORK a whole week! Frequently, UNSCHEDULED ABSENTEEISM skyrockets after a big cash payout is made!
Non-Cash: Separate and distinct from regular cash compensation. There is no possibility for confusion. As a result, non- cash awards more effectively capture the attention and sustain the extra efforts of your audience.
While your employees may say all they want is more cash, remember, all of us have always worked for cash to satisfy basic needs. More cash means more security in meeting these basic needs. Unless you're financially desperate, more security isn't a powerful, action- producing need. For everyone else, personal indulgence and social recognition are. Non- cash awards more effectively provide the opportunity to satisfy these needs. While both cash and non-cash can initiate extra effort, non-cash is much better at sustaining it.

You need to be comfortable that the award system you're considering can meet your need for results, flexibility and quality. Following are the benefits you can expect from using the "Award of Excellence" Award Books.

Initiates and sustains over-objective performance. "Award of Excellence" Award Books (from $1 to $1000!) encourage and reward your employees for achieving increasingly more difficult performance plateaus.
Flexible to meet a variety of needs. "Award of Excellence" Award Books allow you to issue awards one-time or over a period of time. You award performance WHEN YOU WANT TO & HOW YOU WANT TO.
Easy to use and administer. If you can pass out a memo, you can use the "Tax Free Gift Certificate" Book and an Award Order Form and you're done! We do all the work. We process the order within 48 hours and ship the award directly to the address specified by the winner.
Accommodates everyone. Each "Award of Excellence" Book presents dozens of awards selected to appeal to your Employees' broad range of interests and tastes. More appeal means more results. With "Award of Excellence" there's something for everyone. By allowing each person to select the gift he/she would most like to earn, you avoid the frustration of trying to pick "the perfect award" that appeal to and motivates everyone.
Guaranteed quality and satisfaction. Bill Sims Company offers a 100% Award Winner Satisfaction Guarantee. If there is a problem, we fix it.

Before presenting our ideas on what to do, it might be helpful to also look at examples of what not to do. Following is a list of common mistakes made in operating incentive programs......

a recognition program with a motivation program. Structuring a program that rewards only your top few employees is a recognition program. You can probably pick the winners on the first day of the contest. And so can all your other employees, which means they'll feel out of the race before it starts. On the other hand, and effective motivation program structures incentives so that each employee has the opportunity to earn based on exceeding his/her past performance. This is not to say that recognizing your top performers is bad. On the contrary, if you don't, some other company will. Just be sure to structure a motivation program as a motivation program, and then provide additional awards to recognize your top performers.
Making a "laundry-list" of objectives. Resist the temptation for using an incentive program to address everything that needs attention. Running a program that includes safety, quality, and absenteeism only diminishes its focus.. Think of using incentive programs as a tool for capturing and channeling special effort toward the achievement of a specific, highly focused goal.
Making the program "too hard." Objectives need to be challenging, but realistically achievable for the majority of participants. By setting the "hurdle" too high, you'll likely doom the program to failure and negatively impact morale. More effective is to offer a small incentive for simply getting started towards the objective, and then "stepping up" the incentive as performance increases. "STAR PERKS And Award of Excellence" Gift Certificates are a perfect tool for this strategy. They're a great way to get everyone's attention and get them excited about the opportunity to work harder and be rewarded for it.

We Look Forward to Working With You In Making Your Incentive Program a Success!