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Behavior-Based Safety Awards—Why They Shouldn't Stand Alone

Behavior-Based Safety Awards—Why They Shouldn't Stand Alone

Motivation Minute Blog

Well-established, behavior-based safety (BBS) is very consistent in its implementation. BBS seeks to increase safe behaviors by using the basic tenets of operant conditioning, in particular behavioral shaping: Target behaviors are identified (what an employer wants its people to do), actual behaviors are observed, and positive consequences are installed to guide people toward the target behaviors. When the correct behaviors are achieved, the employees are reinforced.

On the surface, this is actually no different from any other behavior-based approach to employee behavior change. However, BBS programs do not typically focus on awards nearly as much as it is done in other types of programs. BBS programs emphasize the use of social reinforcers (a nod of the head, a positive comment, a thank you, a written note, etc) and minimize tangible reinforcers (items of physical value, such as gift cards, shirts, jackets, etc).

From our perspective, the ultimate in behavior-based safety awards might be an award system that uses the same award currency found in non-safety programs. A system would allow individuals to earn points or gift cards after changing a variety of behaviors, from safety, to productivity, to performance, to health. This earning potential would not preclude social reinforcers at all, but instead convert smaller tangible reinforcers into larger, more potent awards. By keeping behavior as the foundation, safety programs can be rolled in with other behavior change efforts. They can retain their typical rigor but increase their potency.   

Link to the full article at Incentive Magazine

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