Ask the Safety Rep: Starting an Incentive Program



An employee safety incentive program, if part of a larger risk management strategy, can enhance your safety culture. On the other hand, if not designed, implemented, and managed properly, incentive programs can be a source of contention or irritation, and can lapse into oblivion very quickly. If your organization is considering implementing a safety incentive program, here are some points of discussion that you should consider:


The incentive program's scope should be determined by what types of losses you are trying to prevent and the behaviors you want to encourage. All-encompassing safety award programs are possible but require significant effort to administer. Keep it attainable, realistic, and within the capabilities and control of the targeted employees. Do not make awards too easy to earn as they may create a sense of entitlement over time. Conversely, awards that are too difficult to attain cause employees to lose interest. Keeping employees interested in the program promotes awareness and is one of the keys to success.


Safety incentive programs can quickly fall by the wayside without senior management support. These programs will not run themselves, so do not announce a program until financial and human resources have been allocated properly. Try to anticipate any ‘what if’ scenarios posed by employees that could derail the program before it gets off the ground. Finally, plan the rollout to include senior management’s involvement. Having their visible support is crucial to success.


Incentive programs should be administered fairly to all employees. One consideration to take into account is operational differences. Motor carriers may offer a variety of services, from long-haul and short-haul to truckload (TL) and less-than-truckload (LTL) operations. Incentives should take this variety into account. For instance, while a long-haul driver will likely be eligible for a clean roadside inspection award, an LTL driver servicing a metropolitan area will probably not be eligible. In this case, find another way to reward LTL drivers for properly maintaining equipment that is commensurate with their risk exposure.


Safety incentive programs can be administratively burdensome depending on the complexity of the program. For this reason, each department should play a role in managing the awards. Operations, maintenance, and office staff can be involved in the awards that directly affect them by providing the names of employees who meet an award’s criteria. For example, an award for best fuel economy - the department overseeing that data should provide the safety department with the names of those drivers who led the company.


  • Develop the framework for a safety incentive program and obtain support from senior management.

  • Solicit input from all employees on ideas for a meaningful incentive program.

  • When finalized, create a fun marketing strategy to launch the new program.


Note: These lists are not intended to be all-inclusive.

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The information in this article is provided as a courtesy of Great West Casualty Company and is part of the Value-Driven® Company program. Value-Driven Company was created to help educate and inform insureds so they can make better decisions, build a culture that values safety, and manage risk more effectively. To see what additional resources Great West Casualty Company can provide for its insureds, please contact your safety representative, or click below to find an agent. 

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© Great West Casualty Company 2020. The material in this publication is the property of Great West Casualty Company unless otherwise noted and may not be reproduced without its written consent by any person other than a current insured of Great West Casualty Company for business purposes. Insured should attribute use as follows: “© Great West Casualty Company 2020. Used with permission by Great West Casualty Company.”

This material is intended to be a broad overview of the subject matter and is provided for informational purposes only. Great West Casualty Company does not provide legal advice to its insureds, nor does it advise insureds on employment-related issues. Therefore, the subject matter is not intended to serve as legal or employment advice for any issue(s) that may arise in the operations of its insureds. Legal advice should always be sought from the insured’s legal counsel. Great West Casualty Company shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss, action, or inaction alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the information contained herein.