Safety Scratch Offs

starperk safety scratchoff

Easy-to-implement program where you distribute scratch off cards worth points toward trips and prizes. Learn More


Online Points Program


Customize your own points program and give employees the ability to redeem points online. Add it as an overlay to any BBS or safety program.

Human Capital Management

Maximizing Performance Through People

by Donna Oldenburg

With more than 2 million jobs slashed over the past two years, employee retention and recruitment may seem unlikely priorities for many American businesses. But if government projections are accurate, a labor shortfall beginning in 2005 could threaten the survival of companies that fail to prepare for it now.

"Enlightened, forward-thinking companies understand that now is the time to act, not later when they have no choice," says Mike Hadlow, president and CEO of USMotivation, a performance management company in Atlanta. "When the labor situation reverses, companies which have failed to employ comprehensive humancapital management practices, including incentive and recognition programs, will risk losing their best and brightest."

"Human-capital management" has fast become a buzz phrase among a growing number of executives. By focusing on people through effective leadership, communication, recognition, and incentive programs, companies hope to accomplish two goals. First, boost the productivity and morale of workforces demoralized by layoffs and budget cuts. Second, create a workplace that assures the retention and recruitment of top-notch personnel when the economy rebounds.

"Talent management during crisis times is critical," says Sharon Taylor, senior vice president, Corporate Human Resources, for Newark, New Jersey-based Prudential Financial. "You need to wrap your arms around the people who will carry you through the tough times and bring you into the future. You also need to create an environment that is attractive to people who may be coming in to join your company in the future."

Companies can’t afford to become complacent about their people in tough times, warns Jim Dittman, president of Dittman Incentive Marketing Corp., a New Brunswick, New Jersey-based performance improvement company. "The notion that people are just ‘happy to have the job’ overlooks the fact that competitors are looking for every edge they can get, which may well start by seducing the best people in your organization. Motivation programs conducted during times that try men’s souls can create bonds that last for years to come. They communicate the message that ‘we think you’re important, we think your contribution is critically important, and we’ll get through this thing together.’ And when they do that, the company and its employees come out on the other side stronger than when they went in."


Motivating Your People

There is no shortage of research to back up claims that something needs to be done to re-energize American workers. "Recent studies indicate that 30 percent to 40 percent of the working population is unhappy in their jobs to the extent they have ‘checked out mentally and emotionally,’" says Joyce Gioia, business futurist and president of the Herman Group, a management consulting firm in Greensboro, North Carolina.

In a study conducted for the Society of Incentive and Travel Executives (SITE) Foundation, 85 percent of employee respondents agreed that their level of motivation definitely has an impact on either the quality or quantity of their work. Yet 59 percent believe their company does not do enough to motivate them.

"Companies experiencing workforce reductions need to be particularly vigilant to ensure every employee is working at an optimal level for maximum productivity," says Rodger Stotz, chair of the SITE Foundation research committee and vice president, global practice leader for Maritz Inc., a performance improvement company in Fenton, Missouri. "Results indicate that employees are very attuned to what their companies are doing, and not doing, to get them to work harder and smarter, and money is not the only variable. Creating a motivating environment for occupational excellence may seem obvious, but this data indicates that companies are under-utilizing this effective management tool," adds Stotz.

An increasing number of companies are stepping up and taking notice of the power of incentive and recognition programs, according to Karen Renk, executive director for both the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA) and the National Association for Employee Recognition (NAER) in Naperville, Illinois. "A recent survey conducted by WorldatWork and NAER found that employee recognition programs increased in 2002 over 2001. According to the 2002 Employee Recognition Survey, 84 percent of the respondents had an employee recognition program in place. This shows that despite a weak economy, organizations understand the importance of keeping their employees happy, productive, and aggressively contributing to the bottom line."

Lorin Young, who is responsible for strategy, planning, and financial management for Nationwide Insurance’s Office of Administration in Columbus, Ohio, insists that a human-capital plan is as vital to a company as a financial plan. "If you’re striving to be a great company, you first have to be a great company to work for. It’s impossible to ask an employee to give a great customer experience if their work experience isn’t like what you want the customers to have."

Nationwide takes great pride in its people management programs, particularly in these turbulent times. "We’re aggressive in looking at what we can do to reduce operating expenses without having to jump to eliminate people to get our expenses down."

For companies that do effectively incorporate human-capital management strategies into their workplace, the bottom-line rewards can be plentiful. An Andersen Consulting survey reveals that programs to retain and reward leading sales, marketing, and customer-service people can give a $40 million lift to the bottom line of a $1 billion business. Companies with a strong link between enterprise strategy and rewards programs are also credited with generating a shareholder return almost 40 percent higher than competitors without such a strategy, according to a study from the Aberdeen Group.

These powerful statistics come as no surprise to Cathy Atkinson, who had the opportunity to witness the power of recognition programs firsthand. Atkinson worked in conjunction with The Bill Sims Company in Columbia, South Carolina, to implement a program at West Valley Nuclear Services in Buffalo, New York. The program, which sought to assure that the facility was meeting new guidelines for energy savings and procurement, targeted 800 employees, from engineers to cafeteria workers. Employees earned awards that ranged from free coffee to gas grills and cruises for their efforts. The result was an incredible $2.2 million in savings and cost avoidances in 18 months.

But the best part, according to Atkinson, was the program’s return on investment. "We paid pennies on the dollar. If you’re looking for a way to save money, get your employees to help you do that. They know the waste in your company better than anyone."

While not every recognition program includes tangible rewards, many experts insist that such awards enhance the program. "Recognition is key, and when coupled with tangible awards you multiply its impact at least five times," says Bill Sims, Jr., president of The Bill Sims Company. Citing Mary Kay Cosmetics’ legendary recognition program as a case in point, Sims adds, "There’s something about human nature that likes that pat of the back from Mary Kay, but also thinks that pink Cadillac is nice, too."

Programs including verbal reassurance with tangible rewards also have a powerful impact on reducing employee turnover, which is estimated to cost as much as 30 percent of an individual’s salary and benefits package. In fact, 60 percent of employees say they would be unlikely to look for another job if assured of a "bright future" by their current employer, according to a study from American Express Incentive Services LLC in Fenton, Missouri.

Holding onto employees really pays off. Even a 5 percent increase in employee retention can result in a 25 percent-to-85 percent increase in profitability, according to the Harvard Business Review article, "Putting the Service- Profit Chain to Work."


Overcoming Reluctance

Despite overwhelming proof that recognition and incentive programs are an effective part of any human capital strategy, why have some companies been reluctant to employ these tools? "I think some companies see recognition programs as a burden. But they are not a burden if welldesigned and well-administered," says Prudential Financial’s Taylor. "They also provide the leadership of the company with valuable information and a means to communicate and connect."

Some companies mistakenly perceive these programs as costly when in fact they provide a tremendous return on investment when designed properly. Incentive programs aimed at individuals increase performance an average of 22 percent; team incentives can increase performance as much as 44 percent, according to the study "Incentives, Motivation and Workplace Performance: Research and Best Practices," conducted for the International Society of Performance Improvement with a grant from the SITE Foundation.

A program need not be glitzy or expensive to achieve dynamic results either, says Vic Anapolle, former operations manager for W.R. Grace & Company’s Atlanta Darex Container Operation. Working with The Bill Sims Company, Anapolle spent a mere $7,500 to target 80 employees in a variety of areas including sales, safety, customer service, attendance, productivity, and standards compliance. Employee awards included everything from coupons for Starbucks to apparel and merchandise. The program resulted in $175,000- $185,000 in savings each year. The operation was also accident-free for a year and a half and received recognition from OSHA as a model compliance site.

Says Anapolle, "Happy employees can really be productive employees. We achieved these results under the threat of cutbacks and slowdowns at the operation." He adds, "Motivated employees will carry you through the poor economic times and will accept what you need to do in tough times, instead of being divisive."

Technology has been instrumental in making recognition and incentive programs affordable and user friendly. "Materials and administration costs, which were once 15 percent to 20 percent of a programs’ cost, are now as low as 3 percent to 7 percent of a program’s cost," according to Mike Arkes, president and CEO of Hinda Incentives, a Chicago-based performance improvement company.

A case in point is an online program that Maynard, Massachusetts-based SalesDriver developed for V-Span, a Philadelphia-based conferencing network services provider. The program allowed managers to create, control, and update their incentive programs online, saving valuable time and money. Russ McFadden, senior vice president of account management for V-Span, was impressed with the program’s ease of use. "You’re not having to lose valuable face time with customers to manage a contest."

Support for the study of humancapital management continues to grow. In fact, The Forum for People Performance Management and Measurement was recently launched at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. The Forum will develop, manage, and distribute an extensive research agenda and provide a better understanding of the financial benefits and methodologies for having optimal customer satisfaction and employee loyalty. "At most companies incentive and recognition programs are implemented in idiosyncratic fashion with no regard to what the company wants to achieve. They’re add-on tactics," says Frank Mulhern, chairman of the Department of Integrated Communications at Northwestern. "But companies that do it well understand that these programs feed into the company’s overall strategic planning." Companies interested in evaluating their own people-performance strategies can take advantage of the Forum’s research services at no charge.


Motivating in Turbulent Times

Even for companies that do comprehend the importance of human-capital management, recognizing and motivating in today’s tumultuous environment call for special considerations. "In many cases it requires companies to get to the things that made them great in the first place," says Richard Gaeta, president of Premier Incentives in Marblehead, Massachusetts. "When times are great, companies tend to lose focus on staff training, customer service standards, and many of those strategies that kept them in the forefront. Keys to motivating today include targeted staff training, rewarding staff for outstanding customer service, encouraging ‘entrepreneurial’ spirit, and implementing comprehensive performance improvement programs that motivate existing staff."

Focusing on behaviors is also critical, according to Louise Anderson, CEO of Anderson Performance Improvement Company. "In years past, it has been the practice of management to base awards strictly on results. In today’s environment, companies find themselves having to reduce staff and ask employees to perform harder than ever before. The real key is to identify top-producing staff who may already be operating at a 120 percent and identify the behaviors that make them successful. By copying these behavior patterns, they will teach by example and other employees will follow and produce increased results."

Companies that fail to get the message that human-capital management is the key to survival will find themselves going the way of the dinosaur, according to the Herman Group’s Gioia. "Companies that do not recognize or provide incentives to their high performers will find their top talent migrating elsewhere as soon as other options are available. Many companies have cut back or eliminated their recognition or incentive programs because they felt they didn’t ‘have to spend the money.’ They mistakenly approached these investments as expenses. Unfortunately, most will not become aware of this grave error until it is way too late."

Donna Oldenburg is the president of Oldenburg Incentive Solutions, a consulting company to the incentive industy. She is also the former publisher of Incentive magazine.

Has OSHA Really Banned Safety Incentive Programs?

Source: Industrial Safety & Hygiene News


Synopsis: In a word, the answer to this is NO. Osha has investigated safety incentive programs to determine if there is relevancy to the charge that they cause injury hiding. The answer is that at times they can, but OSHA has provided guidelines on how best to use incentives to eliminate this problem.

Headline: OSHA's Review of Incentive Programs Continues
By Shahla Siddiqi, Managing Editor

In early August, Marthe Kent, director, OSHA Office of Regulatory Analysis, submitted an interim status report on the agency's research on safety incentive programs to the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Hazard (NACOSH). The report did not address some of the pertinent questions surrounding the effectiveness of incentive programs in promoting safety and health in the workplace.

"People expected a definitive account of what is a good or bad safety incentive program," says Kent, who is heading the research. "But that is not what we were asked to do. We were asked to review the literature, not evaluate the evidence."

The interim report consists of a 25-page annotated bibliography of 170 articles, books, pamphlets, law case results, Web site ads for incentive programs, behavioral and management feedback studies and trade literature on the subject. The bibliography spans works across four decades, from the 1960s to today.

Back in the fall of 1997, NACOSH was concerned that the promise of large cash rewards and other prizes in some safety incentive programs was encouraging workers to hide injuries and illnesses. Not only that but when these rewards and incentives involved groups rather than individuals the pressure to not disclose an accident increased even more. As a result, the committee had requested OSHA to study the facts and data available.

According to Kent, NACOSH's main interest in this literature review is to find out what kind of research has been most effective on this subject so that it can either ask NIOSH or any other agency to fund a similar study.

"I see no dominant trend," she continued. What she has found is a lot of conflicting information, "overwhelmingly anecdotal," with little systematic or scientific data.

Overall, it appears there are two types of programs: those that set targets to achieve low injury rates and those that award gifts and/or points toward gifts and prizes for attending safety meetings, doing hazard analyses, reporting near misses and practicing safe behaviors. Of the two, Kent said, "people seem to have more faith in the second type, the line between the two often seems to get blurred. It is very confusing."

A lot of the articles indicate that rewards create an atmosphere of mistrust in the workplace. Rewards that should really serve to motivate workers to care about their own well-being and the safety of their co-workers, end up distracting attention away from these goals.

Interestingly, it also is obvious, according to Kent, that companies with good safety incentive programs already have a strong safety and health program in place. A good safety and health program has employee involvement, hazard analysis and injury reporting. Will OSHA consider passing a safety incentive program standard?

No, Kent says. It is more likely it will be part of the safety and health standard. It is not in the plans right now, but the safety and health standard will require such elements as injury reporting, employee protection, and management response--all elements necessary for a good safety incentive program.

In fact, OSHA's guidelines and recommendations for safety incentive programs at its Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) sites, emphasize the value of psychological rewards over large monetary ones. According to the guidelines, programs which recognize employee involvement in safety related activities and reward safe behaviors are more acceptable to the agency than those that are based upon reducing injuries and accidents.

Vic Anapolle, of The Anapolle Group, says what's important is not the size of the prize but the structure of the program and the honesty of the management. This is why he advises his clients to involve people in order to create a sense of trust and understanding. "Don't build up employee expectation that there will be a windfall," he says.

According to Kent, the literature review report will be finished in October, in time for her to present it at the next NACOSH meeting.

We can GUARANTEE a program that eliminates injury hiding AND reduces injuries. Call us for details!


Why Prochaska Was Wrong

By Bill Sims


Forgive me for having second thoughts about Prochaska's Stages of Change theory.  For years, like many, I have felt that the Stages of Change model was THE definitive approach to changing human behavior. For those of you who are a little rusty on this topic, the theory states that any type of human behavior change has 5 stages:

  1. Precontemplation-You have the problem but have no intention of changing behavior
  2. Contemplation-You recognize the problem and are seriously thinking about a change
  3. Preparation-You intend to change behavior but have not consistently done so
  4. Action-BAM! You changed your behavior
  5. Maintenance-You maintain the behavior change for 6 months or more

The model above has been held as the Holy Grail of wellness intervention for many years. The idea goes that you should only try to move people from one stage to the next stage....e.g., find all the smokers who are in Contemplation or Preparation and target your efforts at these, with the assumption being that it is pointless to change the behavior of people who are not at Stage 2.

I always wondered what would happen if we took the most die hard smoker (who is at stage 1 and gave him this proposal:

If you stop smoking we will pay you $1 million for every day you are smoke free.
If you keep smoking we will strap you to an electric chair and kill you.

According to the Stages of Change Theory, we would be wasting our time in this experiment, because the smoker isn't ready to change. The theory holds that he would forego the daily million dollar payout and keep smoking until we push the button on the electric chair.

But we all know this isn't the case. Given the choice of immediate death, and immediate wealth, 90% or more of these Stage 1 people will change their behavior.

For quite awhile I struggled to make sense of all this, and then I went to a course by Dr. Aubrey Daniels, in Atlanta, Georgia.  For those of you who really want to gain a new approach to behavior change, you can attend his workshop, as I did. Or you can just read his book, "Bringing out the Best in People".

Or, you can watch our workshop on Green Beans & Ice Cream  found at and review my presentation in Athens Greece please or South Africa.

Before I delve into the field of Behavior Analysis, let me mention that human behavior change has been achieved successfully for years in a field that sits just one door over from wellness: occupational safety.

Using advanced techniques of behavior analysis and coaching, thousands of companies have changed employee behavior so as to eliminate unsafe actions and behaviors which in turn have resulted in elimination of 99% of all on the job injuries.

So successful have these efforts been that in the last 25 years we have seen workplace safety improve to the point that you are now 10 times more likely to be killed going home from work than while you are on the job.

A. What are the techniques that have helped Safety Managers change human behavior and save millions in the process?

B. Why is the ABC theory more important than Stages of Change in wellness?

C. Why are the most popular kinds of wellness incentives also the least effective?

All of this and more we will now discuss...

a) What are the techniques that have helped Safety Managers change human behavior and save millions in the process?

Please don't zone out and say "oh, that is for safety, so it isn't relevant to me".  Safety behavior change is a great model to study, since it has been around much longer than wellness behavior change, and as such, it has matured fully.

In fact, we can apply the lessons we have learned in 25 years of developing over 1,000 of these programs to the new challenges of wellness behavior change.

First off, the ABC model holds that every Behavior has three actual components.
The ANTECEDENT gets you to see the need for the behavior, then the BEHAVIOR occurs, and the CONSEQUENCES follow.

For example, when you are hungry (ANTECENDENT) you eat (BEHAVIOR) and it tastes good (hopefully) and fills you up (CONSEQUENCES).

There are many antecedents around us all the time: stop signs, billboards, tv ads, etc. and these do a good job of getting a behavior to occur ONE TIME.

It is the job of the CONSEQUENCES to get us to repeat the behavior a number of times.

Here is a common wellness problem that demonstrates the ABC process in action.

You are hungry and so you eat a Krispy Kreme Doughnut.  The consequences that follow immediately (if you are like me) are:

-it tastes great
-it fills you up
-you want more

All of these consequences are POSITIVE, IMMEDIATE, and CERTAIN.

They drive people to eat donut, after donut, after donut.

Now, there are also negative consequences to eating these donuts:

-I might get fat
-I might get diabetes
-I might have a heart attack

These  NEGATIVE consequences however, are FUTURE and UNCERTAIN (because hey, I could get hit by a bus tomorrow and so I don't have to worry about getting fat).

Now, what you should begin to see is that PICS (positive, immediate, certain) are the most powerful kinds of consequences to sustain a behavior whiles NICS (negative, immediate, certain) are the best at stopping a behavior. However, NICS must be used as a last resort since when we use them we will lose much of the morale and discretionary effort that we want our employees to have.

Using the PIC model, it is easy to see why people keep smoking (PICS keep them doing it while the negative consequences of cancer are uncertain and future) and why people give up diet and exercise (because there are plenty of NICS in the early stages of those behavior changes and almost no PICS)

PICS have been used billions of times to change safety behavior (e.g. wear your hardhat, lift with your legs not your back) but we are only beginning to understand their power with wellness change.

Further, we see a vital need to focus on early, upstream behavior change.

Instead of only rewarding the people who lost 30 pounds (trailing indicators) we should positive reinforce people the FIRST DAY they change behavior and order that salad instead of the usual cheeseburger.

Ok, so I think I've pretty much nailed points a) and b) let's look at
our last question...

c) Why are the most popular kinds of wellness incentives also the least effective?

Over 75% of all companies using wellness programs have decided to use an incentive (that's good, cause we need more PICS) but over 80% of those same companies in our study say that they are not reaching HIGH and MEDIUM risk employees who drive 70% of their healthcare costs.


What's wrong with this picture?

There are several problems with the current approaches to wellness incentives which cause them to be less than successful.

The top 3 most popular incentive choices according to our Welcoa survey of over 400 firms are:

Health Insurance discounts-25%
Gift Cards-15%

Tangible reward programs are only 6% of the market. So why are the big three failing to deliver sustained wellness behavior change?

In fact, recent study by SHPS states conclusively that cash & health insurance discounts are the most popular incentive choices, and it concludes that they are most effective. But this conclusion is wrong.

Let's dig deeper into the numbers.

Companies who awarded their employees for wellness participation and used Health Insurance discount spent $450 per employee per year...OUCH! And they only got 50% participation. Divide the numbers together and you will see that you are going to spend $9 per employee per percentage point of participation.

On the other hand, companies who awarded employees with Cash spend $210 per employee per year and achieved 70% participation. Do the same math and you will see that cash is a clear winner over healthcare discounts at a factor of $3 per employee per percentage point of participation.

However, the group of companies who used tangible merchandise drawings spent a paltry $3 per employee per year and still got 32% on a dollar for dollar basis, tangible reinforces produced better results than cash or healthcare discounts!

Why is this so?

Because Healthcare discounts, while they are positive, are NOT IMMEDIATE and CERTAIN. You might get hit by the bus before you ever get to cash in those chips.

Cash is clearly a much better PIC, as is shown by it's results, BUT, we should factor in 3 studies done by Mazda, Goodyear, and University of Waterloo.

In the studies, people were asked "what should we give you to reward you for doing something extra?" such as taking a health survey etc. 82% of the employees said "Give us the money, honey, cause cash is king."

This typical response is the reason that so many studies such as the one by SHPS conclude that cash is the most effective motivator.

But the Waterloo study proves that conclusion false. They gave half the employees $100 cash to complete a survey and the other group received a tangible reward (e.g. that $100 ipod she always wanted but they were in debt on their credit cards and the baby needed new shoes).

People who were given a tangible reward worked 3 to 6 times harder than those who got money, which is usually used to pay down bills.

What can we conclude  from this?

If all factors are equal, the use of a tangible and income tax free reinforcer will provide greater ROI than CASH ever will. In short, if we spend $210 per person per year on a tangible reinforcer program that offers IPODS, Trips, and many other tangibles, we will see greater participation than the cash program where almost half of the budget goes to income tax, and the remainder becomes a payment on the visa bill.

Last, and perhaps most important, most wellness incentive programs have become an "entitlement".

In the early 80's we built wellness incentive solutions for the Home Depot, Bank South, and AT&T.

Following the best advice of the wellness gurus of the day, we would typically reward people for things like signing up for a walking program.

Usually, we'd give a Tshirt and a Water Bottle.

With few exceptions, the people who signed up were healthy, already walking 3 times weekly, and were our low risk employees.

We went to the 8th floor where the overweight, chain smoking operators were and asked them why they didn't sign up for our program to win this really cool water bottle and t shirt.

They laughed us out the door.

So at the end of the day we didn't get behavior change from anyone.

Our low risk folks were walking already....we just gave them a free t shirt.
Our medium & high risk folks were telling us that it would take a much bigger PIC than a t shirt to get them to make all the behavior changes they would have to make to get healthy.

And not much has changed today. Whether companies use gift cards, FSA contributions, cash, or t-shirts, they are continuing to reward mostly their healthy, low risk employees.

What is needed is a strategic approach to incentives that matches the PICS with the risk. That means that we need a bigger carrot for medium & high risk folks. And a little something for those who are low risk.

Our research shows that 4 out of 5 wellness programs still fail to get the medium & high risk people on board. Now I know some will whine when I say that we should stop giving away the candy store to our healthy people. But many of these low risk health folks will switch jobs 2 to 4 times till they settle down.

It's time to start viewing our employees as Triage in the ER. We need to put our money and resources where are medium and high risk folks are--since they drive 70% of our healthcare costs. We also should understand that Stages of Change is a good map to have, but the engine of behavior change is managing the positive consequences effectively for each person.

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