An employee safety incentive program, administered as a sub-component to a comprehensive fleet loss control system, can be an enhancement to an organization’s safety culture. On the other hand, if not designed, implemented, and managed properly, incentive programs can lapse into oblivion very quickly. If your organization is considering implementing a safety incentive program/driver safety award programs, here are some points of discussion that you should consider:
DEFINE THE PROGRAM OBJECTIVE.
The scope of your incentive program should be determined by what types of losses you are trying to prevent, as well as the types of behavior you want to encourage. All-encompassing safety award programs are possible, but require significant manpower to administer. Keep it attainable, realistic, and within the capabilities and control of the targeted employees. Awards that are too easily attainable impart a sense of entitlement over time and awards that are too difficult to attain cause employees to lose interest. Keeping interest in the program promotes awareness and is one of the keys to success.
EVALUATE THE ORGANIZATION’S CAPABILITIES AND RESOLVE.
Just like the “clubs” you formed as a child safety incentive programs can quickly fall apart if the organization is not committed to keeping them intact. These programs will not run themselves. It is better to defer inception to a future time when resources (both financial and human) are more available, than to over-commit and have the program dissolve within the first few months. Garnering executive management support is an absolute must!
TARGET THE RECIPIENT EMPLOYEES.
Incentive programs, which are administered equally to all employees in the interest of “fairness,” do not take into account the fact that LTL drivers, servicing a metropolitan area for 12 hours a day, are exposed to significantly more risks than dispatchers who spend 10 hours a day in an office. If your goal is to reduce losses by encouraging safe behavior, the terms of the program for each of these groups of employees should be commensurate with their risk exposure. In other words, because it is more difficult for the LTL drivers to achieve the award, the value should be greater, and/or the qualification period shorter, than it is for the office employees.
DESIGNATE, RATHER THAN DELEGATE, RESPONSIBILITY.
Safety incentive programs are administratively burdensome. Tracking and recording periodic driver performance is a task that cannot be put off, especially with larger fleets. Clearly identify which employee, or group of employees, will be responsible for each component of the program. Management should take into consideration the other duties of those employees as well. While not absolutely necessary, it is beneficial to solicit volunteers that believe in, and genuinely support the program.
DETAILS, DETAILS, DETAILS!
All too often we have the tendency to intentionally build flexibility into our management systems. When it comes to safety incentives, however, you want to define the terms of the program as specifically as possible, and in a positive way. A method of determining crash preventability is an absolute necessity. With your program objective in mind, clearly state what behaviors will result in reward, i.e. no preventable crashes, no moving violations, etc., then be sure to specify the time period for qualification. Consider a “sundown” provision stipulating that, after running for a said period of time, the safety award program will be evaluated and may be discontinued.
Awards need not be of high monetary value, but should be of perceived value to the targeted recipient. An organization once awarded executive-type portfolios to their drivers as a quarterly safety award. After the award ceremony, several of the portfolios were found in the dumpster. Likewise, another motor carrier awarded nice leather jackets to its top south Florida drivers, only to have them request an exchange for cash. In contrast to cash, a nice certificate, a gift card to a popular restaurant, or organizational clothing all show that some thought went into selecting the award. Drawings for large prizes such as cars, trips, or boats can have both a positive and negative impact on your participants, so consider this option wisely.
TO BLEND, OR NOT TO BLEND METRICS.
Adding a fuel efficiency, customer service, or cumulative career-miles driven component to your safety incentive program can inspire cooperation and generate interest across departmental lines. This is beneficial because one of the objectives of an incentive program is to generate safety awareness throughout the entire organization, not just within the safety department. What better way to achieve this than by reaching out and involving the operational/production centers of your company in a traditional “safety department only” initiative? Of course an argument can be made for comparing apples to apples, and keeping the components of a safety incentive program separate and distinct from other performance metrics. The size, culture, and capabilities of your organization will determine which option will produce the best results for your company.
For additional information on driver safety award programs, contact Great West Casualty Company for any questions or concerns. Also, feel free to contact us with any truck insurance questions or quotes.
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