Why Safety Recognition Programs Fail

Why Safety Recognition Programs Fail

Why Recognition Programs Fail

Both positive reinforcement and negative punishment occur in safety recognition programs that reward one employee for being first, best, or most improved. At the same time the one winner receives positive reinforcement, everyone else receives negative punishment because they are, in fact, losers.

Everyone else may have performed quite well, but since they were not the best, positive recognition is withheld. The result is one winner and many losers. Recognition programs that reward only the best performer can de-motivate most workers. This form of negative punishment is one of the primarily reasons safety recognition programs do not work.

Why recognition is important

Employee recognition is the acknowledgment of an individual’s or team’s effort or results, often focusing on the cases where exceptional work has occurred. It may seem like common knowledge that recognizing hard work is essential, but not everyone realizes this.

It’s something we seek

If a member of your staff goes out of their way to do their job and doesn’t get rewarded for all the energy spent, they’re far less likely to do it again. This is because humans, as a species, need respect and acknowledgment to determine their self-worth.

It’s not about their pride or lack of maturity, but rather something we do naturally as humans.

Your employees need to feel that the effort they put into doing work for you does not go unnoticed, especially when they do more than what’s asked of them. If they do go without any attention given to them, they’ll feel a lack of self-respect and see a lack of meaning in their work.

What makes a good recognition system

There are both good and bad ways to recognize and reward employees. The right ideas will see your company thrive, with little, if any, unfavorable behavior coming from your staff. This is because good systems are designed to make employees feel motivated to work harder, even if it is for an external reward.

It’s specific

A well-organized system of rewarding and recognizing employees does not look for random things to praise. Instead, it has a particular list of items that make a member of staff worthy of recognition. This set of determining factors help to ensure that there is no favoritism or forgotten employees.

A specified list also helps your staff to know what to strive for if they want recognition. Keeping the rewards equal will be beneficial. A great but simple reward will help improve office health by helping employees get more active in the workplace.

It’s on time

One of the worst things you can do is make an employee feel unrecognized. This happens if a member of staff does hard work that’s worthy of receiving recognition, but too much time passes before you reward them. This allows employees to feel neglected and decrease the effort they put in at work until they feel noticed.

If you reward the person soon after they show ambition and drive, they’re more likely to keep it and will prove to be an asset to the company.

What causes recognition to drive your team apart

If recognition is such a good thing, it can be hard to imagine why it would drive your team apart. However, this can actually happen very quickly without anyone noticing until an employee voices their feelings.


Jealousy is a natural human emotion that all members of your staff are subject to. While rewarding an employee can be an excellent thing, if another effective co-worker sees this and feels as though their own work should have received the recognition, they’ll develop negative feelings.

These feelings can quickly result in an employee doing less than what’s required of them or simply never trying to achieve more in their line of work.

The favorite

If one employee is rewarded more than their colleagues, then they’ll likely be called a favorite. Often this will result in one of two situations occurring in the office. The first is that your staff member will begin to act entitled, especially when a high-level reward has been given out.

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