Incentivization of performance outcomes has been around for a long time. In the field of safety, it has proven to be problematic in some cases and disastrous in others. Gaming the safety data is associated with incentives, particularly financial incentives. Often referred to as “pencil whipping,” early behavior based safety (BBS) processes were crippled by unreliable data. In that sense, the financial incentives contribute to unethical behavior. Often the seductive nature of large dollar rewards has motivated employees to do much worse than this.
When dollars were associated with the number of behavioral observations or with decreases in Recordable Injuries, the data was often proven to be inaccurate. One of the key principles developed from 70 years of scientific research into the cause of human behavior states that our behavior is driven by its consequences – that is when we do something, we focus on whether it works for us or not. If we turn the knob on the door, does the door open – a consequence related to our intention, the reason we performed the behavior.