We have worked closely with business customers from across New Zealand to design new workplace health and safety incentives.
In workshops facilitated by ThinkPlace we've gained an understanding of business customers' needs, preferences and motivations so we make the right design choices on how our products can make a difference. Now we want to hear from you.
We’d like your feedback on the key insights we’ve gained so far from our co-design work.
Let us know your thoughts using the form at the bottom of this page.
- Health and safety capability is a journey and an employer’s needs change over time
- Keeping people healthy and safe is good for business
- Growing the culture requires authentic and powerful leadership
- Reputation is a key motivator for businesses, having a way to demonstrate it is gold
- Forming partnerships unlocks greater value
- A change in outcomes requires a focus on practices and culture
- Information and data makes the case for investment an easier sell
- Each step on the journey needs to be attainable
- Workplace levies feel like a tax, not an insurance
- Incentive products need to work together and fit within the wider system
- Fairness is critical
- The stronger the link between action and reward, the greater the incentive
- Non-work injuries and illnesses impact on business performance as well
- Value-add from ACC can take many forms
- The complexity of experience rating limits its effectiveness as an incentive
- A high administrative burden can be a disincentive to engage
- Levy discounts incentivise accountants more than the people improving health and safety outcomes
Health and safety capability is a journey and and employer needs to change over time.
Every employer is on a health and safety journey. Every employer:
- is at a different stage along their journey
- has different triggers for starting or accelerating the journey
- has a different pace at which they can grow their capability. This is dependent on their own specific situation and priorities.
These journeys take time.
An employer’s needs change over time and it influences when they’ll take the next step along the journey. For example:
- Reduce serious incidents.
- Focus on less serious injuries.
- Focus on wellness and health.
To incentivise a faster rate of change, the incentives need to align with the current needs of the employer.
“We've made significant improvements, but we can't keep moving at the same speed, it's a resource issue.” - Employer
"Our business is changing constantly.” - Employer
"Success is employers understanding incentives, caring about H&S, and knowing what to do to improve.” - Actuarial expert
Keeping people healthy and safe is good for business.
While they’re welcomed, the existing levy discount incentives are often insignificant relative to the full costs to business of people having time off work.
The business disruption and inefficiency that is created from time off work is a significant cost.
When quantified, this cost of disruption becomes a powerful incentive to invest further in improving health and safety outcomes.
“Legislation won't grow your business. A culture of care will." - Employer
"Rewards save $$$, incentives save lives, lower the risk." - Industry association
Growing the culture requires authentic and powerful leadership.
Health and safety practitioners acknowledge that they can’t drive the change they seek without leadership and role modeling from senior business leaders.
It is about much more than the CEO signing a health and safety policy.
It is about the CEO and others:
- placing the health and safety agenda at the heart of the business priorities
- being the greatest champions within the business for why it matters.
“Good H&S is leaders taking responsibility for H&S." – Employer
"I would have walked away without Board and CEO support." – Employer
"It's an ethical issue to keep organisations safe." - Academic expert
"Give safety a name, give it a face." - Employer
Reputation is a key motivator for businesses, having a way to demonstrate it is gold.
This plays out on many levels. Employers:
- source talent from local communities
- attract investment from the investment community
- want to retain their valuable and contributing employees
- sell their services and products to customers.
Employers are deeply aware of the impact of a poor or outstanding health and safety record on perceptions of people, and the resulting impact on the business of a poor reputation.
Having ways to tangibly represent their performance record is immensely valuable.
"Reputation is important to staff, customers, community, and stakeholders." - Employer
"We want Mum's and Dad's, and career counselors to say 'that's a good place to work'." - Employer
Employers have a vested interest in a quick return to work, but it is not always easy.
Many employers feel like they are not treated as partners in the process.
If engaged early, they see a beneficial role they can play to achieve win-win-win outcomes for:
- the employee
- the employer
Employers who are well along their health and safety journey are partnering with the medical and therapist community to tailor return to work plans to suit the individual.
Specific pain points include:
- an inability to access information
- a lack of recognition of part-time return to work.
"Employees return to work earlier under AEP because employers are more involved in the process." - Third Party Administrator
Forming partnerships unlocks greater value.
For employers that are well advanced along their health and safety journey, the focus is quickly shifting to the efficiencies that can be gained by true partnerships.
Potential gains from the employer's efforts alone are diminishing. The greater value is in partnering with, for example:
- medical professionals
"We're quite proactive. If something is going to impact our clients we'll go out to them and say it's going to impact you - what are you going to do about it?" - Small business advisor
"We realised we need to partner with others to get what we want, it's not about master-slave relationships." - Employer
A change in outcomes requires a focus on practices and culture.
Many employers are frustrated by a focus on ‘compliance’, ie do I have the appropriate documentation in place?
They want to see a focus on ‘behaviours’, ie do I have the practices and culture to underpin our health and safety efforts?
Employers that are at the more mature end of their health and safety journey, are:
- finding ways to encourage their managers and employees to take personal accountability for keeping themselves and others safe and healthy.
- focusing on unsafe behaviors rather than looking only at injuries and near misses.
This shift in focus also avoids the complacency that can come from being good at 'complying'.
"H&S is about having conversations... parents don't get a manual or checklist and they keep their children safe." – Employer
"H&S should not be a tick-box, people should know automatically what to do to prevent injuries." - Industry association
"When the guys on the floor are suggesting changes, that's when the system is mature." - Employer
Information and data makes the case for investment an easier sell.
Many businesses have very tight margins.
A dollar invested in health and safety is a dollar not invested elsewhere.
Management teams need to see a return on that investment.
There is a lot of pressure on health and safety practitioners to show the:
- value of gaining management buy-in at the outset
- expected value is, in fact, being delivered.
But often the practitioners feel starved of real time and relevant data and information, to support their case.
"I need the reasoning more than the money, to do health and safety." - Employer
"When looking to sell something to the leadership team, money does talk." - Employer
Each step on the journey needs to be attainable.
It can be daunting for employers to know where to start, or what to do next, in terms of building their health and safety capability.
They respond well when:
- the barriers to getting started or taking the next step are low
- there are plenty of signals along the way that are reinforcing they are making progress
- they can celebrate their progress.
Sometimes this means having someone alongside to support, rather than ‘waving a stick'.
“Rather than penalise, help businesses by providing tools, guidance, and material." - Academic expert
"Success is employers understanding incentives, caring about H&S, and knowing what to do to improve." - Actuarial expert
"Don't eat the whole elephant – it's a long game." - Employer
Workplace levies feel like a tax, not an insurance.
To employers, the levy feels more like a tax rather than buying an insurance product;
A tax is about a one-way relationship
Buying a service is about receiving value for your investment.
The impact is that many employers feel that they don't have choice and control with respect to the size of their levy.
This means that any incentive products have limited potential to motivate changes in behaviour.
"Right now, it's not a partnership, ACC just takes." - Employer
Incentive products need to work together and fit within the wider system.
Employers spoke of the confusion created by mixed messages.
For example, at the same time that an employer receives a discount from one of our incentive products, another incentive product can apply a loading.
Employers are left wondering if they are a good performer or a poor one.
More broadly, our levies and incentives are only a small part of the employer's broader system and there needs to be an understanding of the role of the incentives within that.
"An ideal incentive should never be financial, that's nice but it shouldn't be the key motivator." - Industry association
"Use a big dose of commercial reality when developing ACC products." - Industry association
Fairness is critical.
Perceptions of fairness of a scheme are critical for maximising the motivation that results from the incentive.
The current scheme is seen to have a lack of fairness across many factors.
Examples highlighted by employers include:
- cross-subsidising poor performers in my industry group
- discrepancies in risk categories
- other employers burying poor outcomes in the sub-contractor network
- having a single risk classification for our business when we have pockets of extremely low risk and extremely high risk
- dodgy operators who start new businesses to refresh their experience rating
- investing heavily as an industry leader but our competitors get ACC help to catch up.
"It would be good to be measured on our own performance." - Employer
"Many are doing the easy stuff, not with genuine intent." - Employer
The stronger the link between action and reward, the greater the incentive.
The employer is carrying a greater share of the risk and liability within the Accredited Employers Programme, with more 'skin in the game'.
Therefore, the costs of getting it wrong, as well as the benefits of getting it right, are much more visible and present.
This is also an incentive to invest more time and effort in developing strong employer-employee relationships.
The same principles apply to other employers as well.
"Self insurance is the ultimate incentive for health and safety improvement." - Employer
"Allow ownership as close to the source as possible." - Industry association
Non-work injuries and illnesses impact on business performance as well.
Our existing incentive products focus only on workplace injuries and illness.
But the impact on business performance from a non-work injury or illness, can be just as great as a work injury or illness.
For many businesses, the sheer scale of non-work injuries or illnesses relative to work ones means that their impact on business performance is much greater.
The aging workforce contributes to this.
Some employers are frustrated by employees seemingly claiming non-work injuries as work ones due to a perception that they’re move likely to be covered.
And increasingly, employers are focusing on ways to help their employees keep safe and health outside of the workplace.
"The aging workforce is a big challenge." – Employer
"It's difficult to talk to ACC about non-work injuries - we're not entitled to that information." - Employer
Value-add from ACC can take many forms.
There are many bright spots within our current products and services.
Having a relationship manager helps employers:
- navigate ACC
- see opportunities to develop their health and safety capability.
Having a single point of contact for claims management reduces the burden of having to deal with multiple people across multiple claims.
The tools within the Workplace Safety Management Discount programme are informative and helpful.
And training for accountants and advisors enables them to advise employers appropriately.
“Business owners perceive themselves as super busy, they're not going to take a day off for H&S training, they can't afford that time." - Accountant
The complexity of experience rating limits its effectiveness as an incentive.
Even knowledgeable people can’t be confident that they understand how the experience rating calculations work.
Without an understanding of how it works, and therefore how I can have an impact on the calculation, there is a tendency for business leaders to be resigned to ‘it is what it is’.
It is not sufficient to be technically pure, it needs to be easily understood.
“It’s an interesting figure, but what does it mean?” - Employer
"Levy classifications don't make sense." - Industry association
"Levy groupings are quite confusing." - Industry association
A high administrative burden can be a disincentive to engage.
Businesses operate in a tight commercial environment.
Managers have many competing demands and are time poor.
A high administrative burden can reduce the incentive to engage.
For example, for employers in the Accredited Employers Programme, a major pain point is the administrative burden associated with audits across the Programme and other standards.
"I curl up whenever we have to deal with ACC." - Employer
Levy discounts incentivise accountants more than the people improving health and safety outcomes.
While many health and safety practitioners were highly knowledgeable about the levies that their employer was paying and their current experience rating, it was interesting that many were not.
A source of frustration for practitioners is that a levy discount doesn't necessarily flow directly back into their operating budget to take the business to the next level in terms of health and safety maturity.
"People just don't have the cover in place – they bury their heads in the sand and go 'she'll be right'." - Accountant
"NZ has paper based safety, as opposed to safety conversations/culture." - Large employer
If you'd like to know more about our co-design process with ThinkPlace, here's some information.
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Your feedback is extremely valuable to us. It helps us confirm some ideas as well as challenge us on others.