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41 chapter five ConclusionS This chapter summarizes findings and presents conclusions Unfortunately, because of decreasing budgets and increasing from this synthesis project, and offers suggestions for future operating costs, many transit systems are unable to implement study. A literature review, surveys, and case studies provide an or maintain operator reward programs. assessment of factors contributing to successful transit opera- tor safety programs, with specific emphasis on discipline and As only a few of the agencies who participated in this study reward programs. have active employee health and wellness programs, addi- tional research could be conducted on the need for workplace wellness programs, as well as the benefits of such programs. Conclusions Although there is no empirical data related to the transit indus- try, the agencies that have comprehensive employee health Every transit agency in the study emphasized the importance and wellness programs reported increased morale, reduced of safety in its mission and in its operations; however, dif- turnover, and lowered absenteeism. ferences between agency approaches to safety were obvious in the various methods and level of agency commitment for A number of agencies reported success, some measured, accomplishing safety goals. with reward or incentive programs. A variety of program ele- ments were mentioned, including group awards, individual One constant was the presence of a disciplinary code for awards, goal-setting, competition, public display of perfor- safety-related matters. All were progressive in nature with mance, short- and long-term awards, recognition, and spon- exceptions only for the most serious of safety-related offenses. sored social functions. Also included in the survey findings However, evaluating the effectiveness of discipline as a method was the successful use of incentives when an agency used a for improving safety was difficult for a number of reasons, the contracted service provider. In these cases, actual performance most notable being the absence of a control group (i.e., an was measured against performance standards and was used to agency that does not have a disciplinary code). Because dis- trigger penalties or incentive payments though the contractor. ciplinary policies are rarely changed, a pre-/post-evaluation of the effectiveness of the change is difficult. The study does not draw conclusions on the effectiveness of disciplinary programs on improving transit safety. It does Based on the information in the literature review, the sur- provide some evidence that those participating agencies that vey, and the case examples, it appears that regardless of the recently implemented some form of safety award or incentive industry, safety incentive programs can be successful when program have met with some degree of success. No conclu- used in conjunction with an existing safety program. An sion can be drawn between any measure of success and indi- effective incentive program encourages employees to exceed vidual reward program elements. However, it is important to the requirements of the safety management program. These note that a common theme among the successful award pro- programs raise awareness of the organization's commitment grams is that they were "recent" interventions. This could indi- to safety by engaging and educate employees, encouraging cate that a shift in routine focus through the introduction of a positive behavior change, and rewarding and recognizing new program might in itself result in participants paying more employees for contributing to a safe work environment. attention to program goals. Transit agencies have used a variety of employee safety reward programs in conjunction with corrective action to Suggestions for Future Research recognize, motivate, and reinforce organizational safety culture. Based on the findings, it is evident that agencies This report suggests that additional research might be under- that incorporate safety reward programs find the programs taken to measure the effectiveness and benefits of employee to be effective tools to improve employee morale, encour- incentive programs and to identify the best industry-specific age employees to work safely, and improve the employee disciplinary practices. Potential areas for research include: employer relationship. These affirmative approaches to safety management, along with consistent discipline programs, · A scientifically controlled study to evaluate the effec- have been reported by respondents to be model programs. tiveness of rewards/incentives in reducing accidents.
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42 Although research collected during this project sug- · Research on the opportunities for public transit agen- gests that such programs, developed and incorporated cies contracting with service providers to use rewards with the buy-in of the employer, employee, and union and penalties within the contract structure to improve can work effectively, additional research might be con- safety and overall performance. ducted on a larger sample size to provide quantifiable · Additional research to evaluate the impact of a workplace safety data. wellness program on organizational safety and how it · Research directed toward the development of a standard- relates to employee absenteeism, health care costs, work- ized, participatory process for implementing program related injuries, employee morale, and retention. or policy changes to improve safety. Such a study might · Research conducted to identify successful practices of focus on what employee input and participation are developing and enhancing the safety culture of tran- necessary to develop successful and effective reward/ sit agencies, expanding the focus to all aspects of the incentive programs. organization and not just bus operators.