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Why Monetary Rewards for Safety Performance Won’t Work


There are very few things that are more worrisome than workplace safety, especially if you are one of the many business owners in the field of construction or manufacturing. Laws are in place that penalises business owners who have employees that do not adhere to work safety standards that are put into place. As a result, it’s important (and also quite mandatory) to teach your employees about workplace safety and to enforce the rules. Keeping your safety risk low also helps keep your worker’s compensation costs low. Trying to drive home the importance of workplace safety can be a taxing chore, and it often can be one that employers struggle with.

Of course, many employers have tried to find new ways to create a safer, more organised workplace. Some choose to have special workplace safety seminars that educate employees on how to maintain a certain level of safety. Others opt to have a special consultant develop new ways to keep employees on the ball. Still, others choose to have extremely harsh penalties for those who make a mistake that deals with workplace safety.

Others still choose to have monetary incentives to try to keep their employees from making the same safety mistakes over and over again. Out of all of the different ways to handle safety performance issues, the monetary incentive route is quite possibly the worst option for employers to choose.

Using money to provide an incentive for people to do something has been a method that has been used for centuries to get things done. Though monetary incentives have been used for decades to motivate people to do the right thing, there have been many studies that have shown that money is not a good motivator in the long run. Some cases have shown that people are more likely to “cheat” in one way or another to try to get the incentive money. Other cases have shown that people begin to expect the incentive without actually doing the work that is needed in order to earn the incentive. In some cases, it will not make a difference in people’s actions at all, since they may not be fully aware of why they are even getting the incentive at all.

As a general rule, most people do not get motivated by money, even though it is one of the most important tools in a person’s life. According to most psychologists, people are more likely to be motivated by positive social pressure, by purpose, or by fear. Money, on the other hand, will not motivate a person enough to make them change their habits. So business owners would be wise to work on cultivating a culture that encourages looking out for one another or to develop a stricter set of penalties for those who do not obey local safety laws than it would be to spend money trying to get people to look out for workplace safety issues.

So how do you make a better, safer and smarter workplace?

  • The best way to start is to lead by example and to talk with your employees about the new safety-conscious efforts that will be taking place at work.
  • Hold a couple of quick meetings that teach your employees about proper workplace safety methods, as well as educate your employees on workplace safety laws.
  • If you do a good job of motivating people to be a little bit more conscientious when it comes to their safety practices, you won’t need to spend any money in order to make a major change in the way your company operates.