Designing a Safety Rewards Program


Explore the essentials of designing an effective Safety Rewards Program that leverages positive reinforcement over punishment, uses key safety metrics to establish clear goals, and offers varied rewards to motivate consistent adherence to safe practices in the workplace.

Punishing unsafe behaviors doesn’t always make them go away. Punishment doesn’t motivate people to care about safety any more than they already have been. Instead, a culture that relies on punishment will create an environment where employees are afraid to make mistakes and afraid to admit when they do something wrong. 

You may see some immediate improvements in behaviors after a disciplinary action is taken. But if you don't provide an environment where people can safely admit their mistakes and learn from them, they won't be able to consistently practice safe behaviors in the future. Your goal as a Safety Champion is to help your team develop a disciplined focus on safety, and encourage the consistent application of safety best practices. 

Discipline is established through positive reinforcement of good behavior and performance. You need to emphasize what your workers are doing right and encourage them to do more of those things. Positive reinforcement creates a workplace culture with the best chance of consistently practicing safe behaviors. When you reinforce good behavior and performance with positive feedback, you motivate people to continue doing things right. 

One of the most effective methods of creating a disciplined and consistent safety culture is through a safety rewards system that establishes clear safety goals and tracks progress towards them regularly. 

The first step in designing a safety reward program is to identify the specific goals you want to achieve. You can work with your Voxel account executive to identify leading indicators of safety incidents in your work environment, such as bad lifting posture or vehicle stopping. The Voxel Incidents page will give you visibility into the specific behaviors you have flagged.

Next, you must develop a system for tracking and rewarding safety performance. The Voxel Analytics page can help you track compliance across different shifts within a single worksite, or across multiple worksites in your organization. Use the data from Voxel to set goals, identify trends, and reward top-performing shifts.

It’s important to clearly communicate the safety reward program to your workers so they understand how it works and how they can qualify for rewards. You should provide information on the specific behaviors and actions that will be rewarded, as well as the criteria for receiving rewards. Outline the rules and guidelines in a written document, such as an employee handbook. 

Communicate about safety rewards as often as possible, especially during training sessions and safety meetings. Displaying posters or other promotional materials around the workplace can help remind workers about the program and encourage participation. Come up with a creative name for the program that everybody will remember!

A simple exercise you can give your site supervisors that can make a big impact on your safety culture: have each supervisor identify one positive safety behavior each day, and make a note when they see an employee doing the right thing. At the beginning of their next shift, give your ‘safe’ worker a swag item (like a branded sweatshirt, cooler, coffee mug, etc.) to reward their safe behavior. Explain to the whole shift the importance of that safety rule so everyone understands why it’s being rewarded.

You can practice this exercise with your supervisors every day, and give small rewards throughout the week. Company-branded merchandise is an affordable way to consistently recognize workers’ efforts. Food, pizza parties, or other treats like snack baskets or gift cards to local restaurants and retailers are all small ways to demonstrate your commitment to safety.

Use incident data and compliance reports from Voxel to set goals, identify trends, and reward top-performing shifts. Here are a few examples of bigger incentives you could offer to top performers to encourage your team to follow safety procedures:

  1. Extra pay: You could offer workers an additional bonus or pay increase for meeting their safety compliance goals. This could be tied to a specific safety metric that is a high priority for your organization.
  2. Massage therapy: A massage therapy session is often a welcome solution for aches and pains. If you have space, consider inviting a massage therapist to treat your top-performing shift. Alternatively, you could offer workers a gift card or voucher for a massage therapy session at a local spa.
  3. Events: Tickets to sporting events or concerts can be a fun and exciting reward. This is especially appealing to workers who are interested in these types of events, and can be a valuable team-building exercise.
  4. Professional development opportunities: Consider offering workers the opportunity to attend training or professional development workshops. This can help workers improve their skills and advance their careers, while also recognizing their efforts to prioritize safety.

The specific prizes or rewards that will be most effective will depend on your workforce and the specific safety challenges you’re trying to address. Ask your workers to get their input on which rewards they would find most motivating.