Rules For Safety Recognition

It’s important to understand that the primary message throughout the ‘Rules for Safety Recognition’ is that “Effective recognition is primarily a function of leadership, not management.” 

Rules for Safety Recognition Programs:

  • Security: Security is Maslow’s second-most basic psychological need. (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs states that five categories of human needs dictate an individual’s behavior. 1. Physiological needs, 2.  Safety needs, 3. Love and belonging needs, 4. Esteem needs, and 5. Self-actualization needs.)
  • To promote feelings of security, be sure to include safety recognition and rewards employees have received in their performance appraisals. They will believe management considers safety performance as important. Consequently, employees are more likely to perform up to and beyond established standards.
  • Selection: If you’re providing tangible rewards as part of your safety recognition program, let employees choose from a selection of gifts. Do not assume everyone places the same value on any given tangible reward. Give employees the ability to choose tangible rewards because they will naturally pick the reward that is most valuable to them.
  • Selflessness: You should be motivated to recognize employees for the right reasons. The purpose of following the ‘Rules for Safety Recognition’ is to highlight the great performance of your employees. Leaders should not be motivated by a self-serving attempt. Recognition is all about the employee, not you.

Rules for Safety Recognition Programs:

  • Sensitivity: Be sensitive to the wishes of the person you’re recognizing. You don’t want to recognize a person in a way that they may not want or appreciate. Before you recognize employees, ask them if they are comfortable with being recognized in public.
  • Shake hands: The 5th of the ‘Rules for Safety Recognition’ is- don’t forget to shake the hand of the person you’re recognizing. The more senses used to recognize, the better: sight, sound, and touch are all good. In today’s world, you might even consider a “fist bump,” or a “high five,” especially with younger employees.


  • Smile: It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it! Be sure to smile when you give positive recognition. This simple rule is one of the most important because it sends a positive “relationship” message that complements the “content” of the message you’re sending. It will affect more.
  • Significant: The main principle of the ‘Rules for Safety Recognition’ that the significance of the recognition is determined by the person who receives it, not the person giving the recognition. The recognition has been significant in the heart and mind of the receiver when it increases the frequency of desired behavior in the employee and others.
  • Sincerity: Be sincere. People will know you’re sincere most likely by the tone of your voice. So when you tell someone you appreciate them, mean it! That will affect the heart as well as the head of the receiver. That is what recognition is all about.


  • Simplicity: Keep recognition simple. A simple expression of appreciation may be all that is required to be considered significant to the employee.  Always be the first person to say “hi” when meeting others each day. A simple “great job!” can change a life. Keep it simple – make it fun and you’ll see a real improvement in your work relationships! 
  • Singleness: It’s more effective to single out individuals and recognize their achievements.  Make sure you mention everyone’s contribution to the achievement of the team’s goal.
  • Specificity: Pinpoint the employee’s specific achievement. Don’t establish recognition schemes that reward employees for just being lucky. Emphasize the positive impact that the employee’s performance had impacted the success of the organization.
  • Speed: “The sooner the better”, recognize employees as soon as you can, after the behavior or achievement. Remember, the longer you wait to recognize, the less effective will be the recognition.


  • Spirit: The most important rule from ‘Rules for Safety Recognition’ is -Don’t be afraid to show how happy you are about the performance of your employee. Have some spirited fun when you recognize, that can be quite effective.
  • Spontaneity:  Be spontaneous when recognizing someone. You don’t have to necessarily schedule or plan a formal awards ceremony. Unplanned recognition is more likely to be perceived as more heart-driven than policy-driven and, thus, more effective.
  • Stability: The 15th of ‘Rules for Safety Recognition’ is to keep your recognition program stable and predictable. Don’t change the rules, or the criteria for recognition too often. You may intend to improve the program, but the change you make may function to make the program less effective. If you make changes in a program, employees need to know that the performance criteria, and the form of recognition, won’t disappear or change before they’ve worked so hard to achieve the criteria.
  • Standards: Develop clear, criterion-based standards of individual and group performance. In a worst-case scenario, the organization creates standards that are perceived by employees as being a function of internal politics, or political correctness, rather than personal achievement. Recognition based on personal criteria works best. Everyone who meets or exceeds the criteria for recognition gets recognized. 
  • Subtlety:  You don’t have to make recognition a big public display. Recognition in private is generally more effective than public recognition. Believe it or not, most people do not like to be paraded in front of their peers to be recognized.
  • Surety: Employees need to be sure that if they achieve your criteria for recognition, you will keep your promise and recognize them. If you follow through with promised recognition, your employees will be more likely to achieve the desired level of performance.
  • Staying-Power:  Last but not least ‘Rules for Safety Recognition’ – While developing a recognition program, make sure that you build staying power behind it. Any type of recognition that is received by some but not by others, later, can make your intent of recognition seem insincere.

Leadership is importantly all about doing things that develop positive working relationships with your employees.  Following these ‘Rules for Safety Recognition’, you will develop faith in your employees about you and your organization. Consequently, they do a good job for you because they want to.

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