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Stop Wasting Your Money on Safety Incentive Programs

After my last post, a comment was added by someone trying to sell their safety incentive program services. I’m not sure why she thought this was a good idea because my post had nothing to do with safety incentive programs. Here is her comment:

We offer wonderful safety incentive programs if you are needing one! All on line with pop quiz capability, reporting, tracking etc.!

And my response:

Thanks so much for commenting on my post and raising the issue of safety incentive programs. I believe safety incentive programs are a huge waste of money. If front-line leaders are doing their job in providing high impact positive feedback to their employees, then there is no need for external prizes. I don't think there are very many employees who make an instantaneous conscious decision at work based on the potential of winning a prize at a later date. Companies should spend their money developing their leaders instead of buying trinkets and toys!

Let me further explain. We make our decisions based on two things: the information we have and the culture which we exist. In the work environment, both of these elements are controlled by the leadership team. They are the ones responsible for providing the information and they are the ones responsible for creating the culture.

Many front-line leaders erroneously believe that safety expectations are established during the initial and annual safety training provided by the organization. That is the technical side of the safety information. But there is a tactical side to safety expectations and performance that is communicated by the organizational leadership team. For example, I was recently working with a manufacturing organization in the Northeast. The leadership team was getting feedback that employees felt like recent ‘rush jobs’ were impacting safety results. Although the leadership team prioritized work assignments, there were no big red letters stamped across job packets that read ‘RUSH JOB”, nor were those words ever spoken. When I asked one employee to define a rush job, his answer was simple:

“You know it’s a rush job when four managers come ask you how you are doing instead of just your supervisor.”

By the time that fourth leader stops by that employee’s workstation and says “How’s it going?” what the employee actually hears is: “When are you going to be done!

If an employee is hearing from four different leaders in the organization about when they’re going to be done with a particular project, the next decision they make will have nothing to do with their opportunity for winning a trinket or gift certificate or gift card six months from now. There are five elements that make feedback have high impact: specific, timely, abundant, useful, and based on observation. Safety incentive programs usually miss on at least three if not all of these elements. Stop wasting your money on safety incentive programs in an attempt to buy safety results. Those results can’t be purchased, they can only be created through effective leadership.

About Rodney Grieve:

As the founder of BRANTA Worldwide, Rodney Grieve brings more than a two-decade of hands-on leadership development and health and safety experience to his clients. A nationally recognized speaker, facilitator, and author (Defend Your Profits: Safety Tools for Bottom Line Improvement and SOAR: A Gate to Gate Journey of Leadership Essentials), Rodney personally conducts BRANTA’s Safety Leadership Development workshops and mentoring programs. For more information, please contact Rodney directly at or visit our website at

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