Million mile rings. A trophy awarded to departments with outstanding safety records. Giving with gratitude and respect. These are just some techniques that, according to Lytx clients, have motivated their drivers to drive safely.
And if there were any doubt that incentivizing employees pays off, this infographic from DCR Strategies shows just how much it does. Companies using incentive programs reported a 79 percent success rate in achieving their established goals when the correct incentive was offered. And that’s the key to having an effective incentive program that motivates your drivers to drive safely—tying the right reward to a corresponding action, said Lytx VP of Safety Services Del Lisk.
“An incentive is something that inspires a person to action. And as a fleet safety manager or a coach, that’s exactly what you want to achieve,” Lisk said. Here, Lisk shares his seven best pointers for incentivizing your drivers to drive safely:
1. Be specific about what you’re trying to accomplish.
When designing a driver incentive program, managers should first ask themselves what they want to achieve with it. “Driver behavior is a broad term,” Lisk said. “Managers who narrow it down and design their incentive programs to encourage improvement in a specific behavior will see the best results. What exactly are you trying to improve? Is it speeding? Too many hard braking incidents? The more targeted you are in your scope, the more successfully you can guide others to your desired outcomes.”
2. Know that immediate positive reinforcement is most effective.
Acknowledging your drivers in the moment has greater impact than annual rewards do, because it’s closely tied to what the driver did well at the time he or she did it. “It’s much more effective to have incentives designed around leading indicators,” Lisk said. “If the goal is to reduce collisions, then build incentives around encouraging a change in behavior that reduces the potential of a collision, whether it’s increasing following distance or reducing speed.”
With a topic as important as driving safely, you want drivers thinking about it now, Lisk reasoned. Something as simple as acknowledging drivers during weekly or monthly safety meetings can achieve more positive results than even cash rewards that come months later.
3. Keep it simple.
Incentive programs can fail if they’re too complex, Lisk warned. For example, for fleets that have several locations and don’t want to weigh rural driving the same way they’d weigh urban driving, while that makes sense, don’t make it complicated. It’s easy to get bogged down by too many details. “If the requirements are convoluted, the incentive program is going to be too hard to execute in the field, and it’s not going to last,” Lisk said. “Keep it simple and easy to administer so your incentive program will be easy to execute in the field.”
4. Remember, incentives and rewards are not one and the same.
There is a difference. “Incentives are a leading effort, a goal that drivers can work toward,” Lisk said. “If incentives are designed right, they motivate a change in behavior. Rewards happen after the fact. They don’t motivate a change in behavior; they’re just a reward for the behavior.” For that reason, shorter-term incentives offered over days, weeks, or months are more likely to change behavior than an annual reward is, Lisk said.
5. Leverage technology to gather accurate data on safe behaviors you want to encourage.
For example, if following too closely has been a factor in collisions at your fleet, your organization could use video telematics such as the Lytx Driver Safety Program to gather data on why it’s happening. The most effective incentive programs often tie incentivized behaviors to broader organizational objectives, Lisk said, so ensure the metrics you select are aligned with your organization’s overall safety goals.
6. Gain senior management support
When the message about the incentive program’s creation comes from an executive such as the CEO or COO and is distributed companywide, managers are bound to take the program seriously. “Having support from leadership improves engagement by employees in the field, and that can be critical to the success of the program,” Lisk said. “When leadership is engaged with your incentive program, the program has more credibility, and employees at all levels feel compelled to act on it.”
7. Use peer competitiveness as a valuable tool.
Something as simple as posting in the lunchroom a report showing your top drivers over a 30-day period can be a great safety motivator, Lisk said. “The top drivers on the list want to stay on it, and the others will want to get on it,” he observed.
At the end of the day, Lisk said, “if you’re not happy with your current results, you have to try something different to drive change. If a well-designed incentive program can create positive change, then why wouldn’t you try it?”
Learn more about inspiring your fleet to drive safely in our e-book Driver Incentives That Work.