What role do incentives and rewards play in ongoing attempts to improve Safety Climate?
Incentives tend to be used by organisations seeking to encourage people to volunteer, adopt a work practices or offer suggestions. Whilst the overall objective may be achieved, motivations can be questioned and results may be unsustainable. The real art in encouraging desirable behaviours, which are meaningful and sustainable is to motivate employees in other ways that are intrinsic to their role. Rather than offer incentives a good place to start might be to try and understand what demotivates them in the first place. What is stopping them from volunteering or offering suggestions? What can you do about it?
When offering rewards, it’s important to ensure that staff are delivering desired behaviours for the right reasons and not just to receive the reward. In this respect, it is often best to deliver unexpected rewards and/or recognition to reinforce positive behaviours and inspire individuals. If they’re not expected, they can fall under the ‘incentives’ banner and the same drivers may apply. If rewards or incentives are expected and almost become mandatory, you are at risk of demotivating staff if they are not reached.
Whilst rewards and incentives can be a good way to achieve desired outcomes in the short term, there are better ways to drive sustainable change. It’s much better to work with staff to set achievable and meaningful goals and recognize them verbally and in writing for their individual efforts in reaching their goals. Start with getting to know them and what makes them tick and appeal to their needs. Keep staff motivated by encouraging their individual contribution instead of creating a sense of entitlement and the potential for demotivation through incentives and rewards that are not achieved.
About Generative HSE
Generative HSE is one of Australia’s leading providers of safety and risk solutions providing a range of innovative, evidence-based WHS consultancy, training and facilitation services.
Our work results in visible, sustainable improvements to safety and risk performance, as well as increased productivity, quality and profitability.