The best safety program in the world may exist but it is only working if it changes the employee’s mindset, and this will require their buy in.  So, the topic of Safety Incentives comes up.


How do you motivate your employees to buy into the program? 


I will start by saying that this method challenges my own thinking as I was bought up in a very different work environment.  One where, if an employer told me I needed to do something or I wouldn’t be employed any longer, if I wanted to continue to work there, I did it!!!!  However, we seem to have moved for better or worse to a very different worker mentality.

A recent trip had my family and I at Sea World. While I was sitting there, enjoying the show, it hit me that the mentality of employees today isn’t much different than the whales at Sea World, and certainly the topic at hand.

Think about it, Sea World wants the whale to go out in front of an audience and perform a trick and wow the audience.  It’s interesting that Sea World already feeds the whale three times a day and the whale has health care with over 1000 veterinarians at its disposal. (I know we could argue captivity here, but let’s not, it will ruin the story) What’s funny is with all that Sea World has already provided, the whale, once it goes out and performs a trick selfishly goes right over to the trainer and wants a treat, more food!!!  What’s further, if it’s not given it, the next trick might not be guaranteed.  Unbelievable!!!  All that Sea World is already doing, and the whale has the audacity to want a treat after it does a trick in the very habitat it is given?  

Let’s apply this to the current work environment.  You employers already provide an agreed-upon wage, benefits, job growth potential, company trucks and bonuses but when you ask an employee to fill out a pre-work inspection or sit thru a weekly safety meeting, it’s a fight because they don’t want to do it and sometimes stubbornly refuse. (This is the hard part for me as this makes me want to fire someone).


For many companies the solution has been to incentivize the employees somehow.


At Expert Safety Services we utilize a program that rewards employees for good behavior with prizes for individuals and team participation.  Other companies have figured out things that make the employee want to continue performing.  It’s like the whale being rewarded with the fish after a trick.


Whales do backflips, employees watch safety meetings 


The results seem to be about the same as well.  At Sea World, thousands of people are entertained each day.  Sea World has benefited by us giving them our admission money and the whales have been well fed.  As the employer, you will benefit as customers will continue to pay you and you will avoid OSHA infractions, or possibly even worse, an employee accident. 

So, if you are trying to administer a safety program and your employees won’t do the tricks for you why not try the Sea World approach and incentivize your employees with positive reinforcement? Maybe they’re on to something.

-By Michael Draper

Expert Safety Services