Employee Engagement

As bad as it sounds, a truly engaged employee is hard to find. A global study conducted by Gallup found that only 13% of employees worldwide are truly engaged at work. The United States fares a little better than most in the study, but still fall at 33%. Does your company fall in line with this number?

How do I tell if my employees are engaged?

Engaged workers are identified due to their consistent effort in their current roles, making them stand apart from their disengaged counterparts. These engaged employees can be seen as the ones who drive innovation and move the business forward, with a passion and connection to the company. Compare this to a disengaged worker who become viruses, constantly draining those around them. Disengaged employees are not only unhappy at work, but they act and voice out their unhappiness affecting those around them. These employees reduce productivity at any organization, along with reducing manager’s time to focus on proactive tasks, due to their time spent on correcting disengaged behaviors.

Three Types of Employees:

1)      Engaged- Employees connected with their company, feel a connection with their job and employees around them.

2)      Disengaged- Employees who come to work “checked out” that put in their hours, but have no initiative or passion for their work.

3)      Actively Disengaged- Employees not focused on work, act out their frustration to those around them, and undermine managers and what other employees accomplish.

How Can I Fix This?

Of course the thought of firing all of the disengaged employees immediately comes to mind. But that’s just not going to work, plus a good majority of the disengaged employees have skills and knowledge that is priceless to your success as a company. Have you ever thought of rewarding the behaviors in which you intend for your employees to have? A properly designed employee incentive program can provide a platform to encourage the behaviors you want, even when your physical presence is not possible at all times. Converting your employee base to become engaged is a truly effective strategy that increases performance and provides sustainable long-term growth.

Is Safety Viewed As An Expense?

To some business owners and managers, safety is not viewed as an investment but more as an expense that cuts into their bottom line.  But what happens when this viewpoint ends up costing a life of one of their employees?
One business owner in Brooklyn, New York learned this lesson the hard way.  Salvatore Schrippa, 66, the owner of J&M Metro General Contracting Corp was recently indicted by the Brooklyn District Attorney for failing to adhere to safety regulations at one of his construction sites in Coney Island, NY, which could have saved the life of one of his workers in 2015.
On April 1, 2015 one of Schrippa’s crews were pouring concrete on the sixth floor of a jobsite, without harnesses, fall protective gear or protective fencing which was required by OSHA and the NYC Building code.  One of the workers was smoothing concrete, walking backwards to do the final scrape, reached the edge of the building and fell six stories to his death.
Schrippa plead “not guilty” to numerous charges on June 6th, including second degree manslaughter, criminal negligent homicide, reckless endangerment, falsifying business records and violation of the state’s workers compensation law.  Previous to this incident the owner had been cited four times for failing to provide guardrails and handrail systems to protect his workers, and sadly they were not in place at the time of the fatality nor were fall arrest systems for this jobsite.
As we wait for the verdict to come in that will decide the fate of Schrippa, we all must evaluate our focus and dedication to safety in the workplace.  The mindset of “Safety is an Expense” should by now be transitioned over to “Safety is an Investment.”  Finding answers to your everyday hazards plaguing your industry, and thinking outside the box to promote safe actions and behaviors, starts now.

June Is National Safety Month

It’s that time of year again! The month of June is National Safety Month; and the National Safety Council encourages you to get involved.  National Safety Month is an annual observance to educate and influence behaviors focusing on the leading indicators that prevent injuries and deaths.

his year the emphasis on safety is not only focused on the workplace, but also at home as well. If you feel as though your workplace is moving in the right direction with safety, then it is time to take a look at the other 50% of your employees time spent outside of those company doors. Needless to say that the largest percentage of injuries outside of the workplace happen ON THE WAY TO WORK; between rush hour traffic, an employee that has just pulled a double shift falling asleep behind the wheel or speeding home to try and beat traffic, the hazards are endless. 
Is there a difference between the level of production by an employee, if they are at home nursing injuries that happened at work or during their time off? The answer is No. Why should we spend all of our efforts and resources to preach safe behavior on the worksite, but leave it up to fate when they walk out of those company doors…

It is highly unlikely to create a successful safety culture by accident. Staying safe requires the full focus and attention of your employees every second of every day. By putting emphasis on the importance of safety both on and off work promotes a true safety culture. Let’s eliminate the concept of “Turning on/Off the Light Switch” when your employees enter and exit the building. Let’s find ways to keep the light switch constantly ON, to raise awareness that safety not only exists inside your building but in their daily lives as well.

Finding ways to encourage your employees to remain safe every second of every day can seem unattainable. I assure you that it IS possible and there are great ways to encourage constant engagement both on and off the worksite. The use of the word “Incentives” automatically causes a knee jerk reaction with some to say “No, OSHA does not approve of Incentives.” But first let me clarify, OSHA does not frown upon all Incentive Programs; only those Traditional programs that promote underreporting or non-reporting(focusing on the lagging indicators). However, OSHA’s standpoint on Non-Traditional Incentive programs that focus on changing the behaviors and those Leading Indicators is compliant. Ensuring that you are utilizing an incentive program to be a tool in your toolbox to promote safe behavior and not as a Safety SOP substitute; then it can be successful.

The Time For Change Is Now

Our Marketing Manager and I have been traveling the Southeast for the past six months educating companies on the topic of “Eliminating the Controversy Over Safety Incentive Programs” at all of the major safety and health conferences. We knew the latest OSHA publication on tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses would be the final guidance on what is a compliant safety incentive program. The time was right to ensure everyone knew what was and was not acceptable in the eyes of OSHA. The turnout for our sessions far exceeded our initial projections, and the rooms were packed with company representatives looking for a definitive answer on how to establish a Compliant safety incentive program.
As you may have heard, the traditional style of incentivizing employees for zero recordable injuries and no lost time is now off the table. With OSHA’s final rule on record keeping, https://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/finalrule/, this is no longer an option when it comes to compliance in their eyes. This traditional style of incentive program is thought to discourage workers from reporting or under reporting injuries or illnesses in the workplace. A results driven campaign has the best of intentions but has regularly shown its damaging side and it was time for OSHA to step up and specify what is compliant to ensure companies were following a path to success.
So what can I do for an Incentive Program and still remain compliant?

If you look at the FAQ’s page, https://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/finalrule/finalrule_faq.html, you can see the question asked “Does the rule allow an employer to have an employee incentive program?” The answer you will find is yes, but a strong “However” follows in suit. To ensure the program does not follow in its traditional predecessors footsteps, the program must not deter or discourage an employee from reporting an injury or illness. The focus now must be on leading indicators and proactive behaviors; encouraging safe work and worker participation in safety related activities. We all want to see the same thing, NO INJURIES/ILLNESSES, and moving from this outdated injury-rate-based approach to a newly formed behavior based layout can bring about the same end-result if done correctly.

he big take away from this write up is that incentive programs, when done correctly, go far beyond basic law and are based on ethics of doing whatever is necessary to create a safer workplace. An incentive program must be built around the mindset of encouragement versus discouragement to achieve the results that you desire. Why invest in short term goals, when you can invest in long term sustainable results?

Keep Each Other Safe

While safety professionals declare every month as “Safety Month,” the rest of the nation declares the month of June as “National Safety Month.” This year’s theme “Keep Each Other Safe” is a strong push to truly watch out for one another. It is no accident that National Safety Month is stuck right at the beginning of summer to push for safety excellence; actually the summer months are on record to show the highest number of workplace injuries and fatalities as per the NSC.

I am reminded of my time in the military, the terminology that was constantly utilized such as battle buddy, guardian angel, over watch, and my brother’s keeper. No matter what term you use it all emphasizes one thing, being there for the guy/girl next to you; to ensure that you are doing everything in your power to do the job right to protect the employees to your left and right.  And as bad as everyone hates to do it, provide a little corrective action or constructive criticism to those around you not doing their part to ensure that you are just as protected.
Throughout the month of June, the National Safety Council will be providing materials that can aid in pushing the message to your employees. This material will be focused on reducing leading causes of injury and death at work as well as at home. Considering there were over 146,000 preventable deaths in the US in 2015, I believe it is truly time to “Keep Each Other Safe.” In addition to the NSC providing safety training materials, there are also many retailers that are coming on board to National Safety Month by offering heavy discounts on safety items for the month of June. A large name that stands out that will be providing a discount is Amazon, who will be providing a 15% discount on all Safety Items for the month. This is excellent news to see that more and more organizations are steering towards a bigger focus on safety, and when the world’s largest online retailer comes on board, what’s next?

A Staggering Comparison

What do the casualty count in the Iraq war and OSHA fatality count in 2014 have in common? If you were going to say that the number of casualties in the war had to be greater than one year of OSHA recordable fatalities, I thought so as well, until I did the research.  When I pulled the information from OSHA’s website it showed that 4,679 workers died on the job in 2014, which is a staggering statistic. But then I pulled the information for the total number of U.S. Service members killed in Iraq from 2003-2014, and the number was 4,491; How could this be? A single year of workplace related deaths in the United States is more than 11 years of combat operations in one of the most hostile places in the world?
As a former Infantry Marine of eight years, a Purple Heart recipient, and a veteran of the Iraq and Afghan wars, this overwhelming statistic stopped me in my tracks.  No, there may not be weapons to carry or rules of engagement in the workplace, but there is definitely a battle to be fought; a battle for workplace safety. After transitioning out of the Military and now being in the safety incentive industry, visiting different companies, we see the same issues across the board plaguing the industry.  From operational risk management issues to the lack of focus on safety in the workplace by not only the workers, but management as well. 

It’s time to take a proactive approach to safety starting today and reduce the casualty statistics.  There is no reason why 2016 and beyond should be close to the casualty count of a 10-year war.  I welcome your feedback, to help spread the word that workplace safety is not going to fix itself; it’s time for a change; let’s find and implement solutions to this issue.

Is Job Satisfaction On The Rise?

The answer is Yes!
According to a SHRM survey conducted last year.  
It found 88% of employees said they were satisfied overall with their job.  
hat do you think was the most important factor?
Feeling Appreciated!
Of course some of the top contributors included compensation, overall benefits, job security, opportunities to use their skills and abilities but feeling appreciated for their time and efforts was at the top of the list.
We all want to be appreciated.  We thrive in a workplace where we feel appreciated and we are recognized and rewarded for a job well done.

You can read the full SHRM findings here...
Every company makes an investment with each and every employee not only through payroll but also through the intangible investment of time, interviewing, hiring, education and traini.  Once those investments are made, that employee becomes an asset and even more valuable because of their education and experience.  With an improving economy, companies must find ways to differentiate themselves in the job market to retain those assets and what better way than to focus on what statistics say are most important: Recognize and Reward.
At Incentive Management Group, we specialize in consulting, designing, implementing and managing employee incentive programs that enhance the workplace through motivational and behavioral based incentives.
The IM Group can be your total solution for employee incentives offering 100% Return on Investment
with no up front costs, no set-up fees, no management fees, no platform fees and no contract.  Our programs are custom designed based on your goals, your employees and your budget. 

Are Workers The True Safety Hazard?

Is the hazard on your jobsite the problem or is it the behavior of the employees when they encounter the hazard?
By themselves hazards on the jobsite are not usually dangerous to people. For example, a wet floor isn’t by itself a hazard. Someone noticing but choosing to ignore the wet floor or a worker who is not made aware of the wet floor is the point when it becomes dangerous. It is the interaction of people with hazards that create the situation that can lead to an undesired incident. Worker behavior when encountering hazardous situations are at the root of safety in the workplace. Sounds a little like the old riddle: ‘If a tree falls in the woods and on one is around to hear it, does it make any noise?’ In this instance it would be ‘If the hazard exists but no one interacts with it, is it a hazard?’

The goal for Workplace Safety professionals is to ensure the correct safe behavior of the workers when encountering a hazard. With the wet floor example, the desired outcome would be identifying the hazard, warning others of the hazard and then ensuring corrective or preventative measures are followed to mitigate the hazard when encountered by people. The struggle comes into play when we try to alter another person’s behavior pattern.
The altering of behavior comes down to two basic philosophies; the carrot or the stick. The stick is the method that has been used time and time again in workplace safety. This can be in the form of write-ups, docked pay or firing of employees who do not exhibit the desired behavior. Supposedly the fear of the penalty is enough to cause the behavior modification. We know that this is not enough to truly change behavior. So what works?
The option left to us to utilize is the carrot, the incentive or reward earned for consistent good or safe behavior choices.  Before some of you freeze up at the mention of incentives and safety in the same article you should know that OSHA is against incentives that recognize lagging indicators or results driven awards. What OSHA has approved is the use of incentives for behavior reinforcement. OSHA agrees that incentives can be used to effectively drive behavior that will in the end produce the result we want; reduced incidents on the jobsite. With the wet floor example, the worker who is incentivized to followed the desired correct path of hazard identification, warning and hazard abatement could be rewarded. It was after all their correct interaction with the hazard that led to the hazard correction. Behavior conditioning or correction using carrots or rewards through incentives can be very effective, just ask Pavlov’s dogs.

Criminalizing Safety Failures

Recently we shared the results of the criminal case against Don Blankenship, former CEO of Massey Energy, read the post here. Following an explosion at The Upper Big Branch Mine where 29 employees were killed, Blankenship was tried and found guilty on criminal charges. The decision was heralded as a big deal because it was/is one of the first times criminal charges have extended to the top office of a company. Blankenship was ultimately found guilty of creating a culture that put profits over worker safety. It looks like this is the beginning of a renewed attitude towards enforcement of worker safety standards.

New Plans
Now the Departments of Justice and Labor have announced plans  to make prosecution of crimes that put worker’s health and safety at risk. The plan calls for OSHA, MSHA and the Wage and Hour Division to work with the Justice Department’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices to cooperatively investigate and prosecute violations that involve worker endangerment. According to Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates this is an effort “… to hold accountable those who unlawfully jeopardize workers’ health and safety.” Department of Labor Deputy Secretary Chris Lu said that the announcement shows a renewed commitment to protect worker health and safety by utilizing criminal prosecution as an enforcement tool.
he Departments have been working on these plans for the better part of two years to increase the effectiveness and frequency of criminal prosecution. In the latter half of December 2015, Deputy Attorney General Yates sent a memo to all 93 U.S. Attorneys urging federal prosecutors to pursue worker endangerment violations along with the Department of Labor. In the past these have mostly been misdemeanor violations with minor penalties. The memo encourages utilizing Title 18 and environmental offenses to increase deterrence through enhanced penalties. Criminal penalties under this new relationship increase from what had been financial burdens for the company to now include potential prison sentences for individuals.
“More frequent and effective prosecution of these crimes will send a strong message to those employers who fail to provide a safe workplace for their employees. “ This according to Assistant Secretary for OHS Dr. David Michaels. He goes on to share that the Department is ‘looking forward to enforcing the rules when employers violate workplace safety and health and environmental regulations.’
ow that the Federal Government has a plan to more rigorously pursue prosecution and increase penalties ;what plan do you have in place to protect the company and your employees? An effective Behavioral Based Safety Incentive Plan can help reduce incidents and recordable events. By giving workers more tools and incentives you can feel more confident that you, your company and your workers are less likely to face these enhanced efforts.