For any organization that is struggling to maintain compliance standards, the conversation will inevitably come around to whether or not to offer incentives to encourage behavior change. If constant email reminders, bulletins, refresher trainings, and town hall meetings aren’t doing the trick, perhaps it’s time to consider putting a carrot at the end of the stick:
1. Philosophical Opposition
For some members of your leadership team, this discussion will be a non-starter because, from their perspective, you should never reward employees for doing the job they were hired to do (unless their position includes an incentive package). If compliance to industry regulations is an operational requirement, they will argue, then employees should be disciplined for failing to meet that requirement, not the other way around.
2. Comparative Measurement
As with any incentive program, the issue of what gets measured and what gets rewarded has to be considered. If your company is failing to meet minimum standards, should those standards be the baseline or the target? If they become the target, what do you offer those that go above and beyond that target? Should there be additional incentives or just a hearty handshake?
3. Where Does It End?
Once the door is opened for compliance incentives, the next logical question is: “Where do you go from here?” If the compliance situation is corrected, do you continue with the incentives in order to exceed those standards, or do you scrap the program? Should you also open the incentive model to your janitorial staff or equipment maintenance crews, for example? Once the model receives a formal endorsement, the expectations of employees in other departments must also be anticipated and managed.
4. Inappropriate Use
If your compliance workflow issue includes problems with the prompt and accurate reporting of work injuries, the introduction of incentives has the potential to encourage inappropriate use. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has already raised concerns on this issue. For example, if your company is failing to accurately report injuries, and you offer an incentive to fix that issue, one way to achieve that reward could be to not report injuries at all.
5. Being Practical
While there may be philosophical debates in the boardroom, the extent to which your company may be failing to achieve compliance standards may be the deciding factor. If the incentive program is successful in turning the situation around, perhaps that should be validation enough? Achieving long-term behavior change is one of the biggest leadership challenges, and when you are dealing with potential penalties for compliance transgressions, pragmatism may supersede philosophy.
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