Is motivation needed? Consider incentives

At a secondary lead smelter in Pennsylvania, monetary incentives have been effective in improving processes, such as keeping blood lead levels down. "It does work, especially when it is a separate line item on their pay stub and the wife can see that!" says occupational health nurse Laurie Heagy, RN, COHN-S.

The company's "Suggestion Program" asks employees to submit ideas for improving processes. A formal committee reviews all suggestions, with input from the department that it will affect.

"Employees are awarded money, based on the amount of money that the company will save from the suggestion," says Heagy.

One employee got a $10,000 bonus for a suggestion that changed a procedure in a smelter furnace. Equipment was modified to decrease down time. The change resulted in a gain of one hour of production time per day. "This monetary savings was calculated per company policy, and the employee was paid a percentage based on that," says Heagy.