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Practices, preferences, and understandings of rewarding to improve safety in high-risk industries.

Houette, Beate; Mueller-Hirth, Natascha


Beate Houette


Introduction: This article examines employers’ practices and employees’ experiences of incentive programmes that aim to encourage and reward safe behavior in high-risk industries, focusing particularly on the oil and gas sector. Little qualitative research has been carried out that explores how employees would like to be recogniz ed and rewarded within such programs in the oil and gas sector and why, and what their understandings of safety and rewarding are. Method: Drawing on 41 semi-structured interviews and observation research across eight sites in three countries, we examine safety incentivization practices, preferences, and understandings. The use of Hazard Identification cards is also being discussed. Results: One of our findings is that, contrary to the assumptions of managers and supervisors that material awards are particularly motivational, many employees preferred symbolic recognition, care by the company, the provision of training and professional development, and investment into improving their wellbeing. We also identify a preference for collective recognition over individual rewards and discuss the values of certificates. Conclusions: We conclude that rewarding practices of large multinational companies should become more responsive to the individual wishes of employees and their specific socio-economic contexts and highlight the importance of employee involvement in reward programs.


HOUETTE, B. and MUELLER-HIRTH, N. 2022. Practices, preferences, and understandings of rewarding to improve safety in high-risk industries. Journal of safety research [online], 80, pages 302-310. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 14, 2021
Online Publication Date Dec 23, 2021
Publication Date Feb 28, 2022
Deposit Date Aug 16, 2021
Publicly Available Date Dec 24, 2023
Journal Journal of safety research
Print ISSN 0022-4375
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 80
Pages 302-310
Keywords Safety; Multicultural workforce; Safety incentive programs; Qualitative research; International reward management; Hazard identification cards
Public URL