Creating a culture where safety is a core value begins with having positive relationships with both your management team and employees.  Employee relationships can be improved through recognition.  We’re not just talking about incentives here, even simple recognition can have a positive effect on safety.

As a safety manager, you can use recognition to reinforce safe working behaviors as well as drive a sense of competition.  If you’re publicly recognizing one employee for an amazing safety suggestion, others may want that same recognition and start making suggestions as well.

Meaningful Recognition drives employee relationships

When you’re giving recognition, there has to be some meaning behind it.  It is not a participation award; if you are just going through your list of employees and picking a different one to recognize each week, you are watering down the effect.

Create a Criteria for Your Recognition

A good way to prevent meaningless recognition is to develop a clear criteria for what constitutes what type of recognition.

This also improves your employee relationships because it makes the process fair and it decreases favoritism.  Everyone has the same chance of recognition.

The criteria doesn’t have to be shared with the employees, but it does have to be applied consistently to work.  Examples of recognition criteria include:

Observing a safety behavior that is a current focus area = 1-on-1 recognition

Mentoring another employee = recognition during the pre-shift meeting

Making a safety suggestion = notice in the company newsletter

There are a lot of ways you can recognize your employees using simple gestures.  In this week’s episode, I go over several ideas for a variety of actions.

Make the Recognition Public

Some 1-on-1 recognition is great, but public recognition has the biggest impact.  This is because it involves more than just the one employee.  All the employees that witness the recognition are positively influenced by it as well.

Ways to make the recognition public:

  • During meetings
  • Company announcements or postings
  • Group Text Messages
  • Newsletters
  • Social Media
  • Awards Ceremony

You Don’t Need Incentives to Build Employee Relationships

So many times, management thinks that giving money is the only way to show recognition.  However, studies have shown that monetary rewards do not get the best results.

When you are trying to build employee relationships, you need to consistently reinforce positive behaviors, whether they are safety-related or not, with small gestures of recognition.

This can be built into your daily or weekly routine.  Always be on the lookout for how you can meaningfully thank an employee for their work, efforts, and contributions to the company goals.


When was the last time you were recognized for your work?  How was it shown and what did it mean to you?

Leave a comment below and let’s keep this conversation going.

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Hi, I'm Brye (rhymes with sky)!  I am a self-proclaimed safety geek with two decades of general industry safety experience.  Specializing in bringing safety programs to a world-class level and building a safety culture, I have trained and coached many safety managers, just like you, on how to effectively manage workplace safety in the real world.   I would love to help you too.

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