One of the things that HR professionals, I/O Psychologists and organizations as whole struggle with on a daily basis is changing our behaviors or the behaviors of our employees. For instance, these could be performance-related behaviors, safety-related behaviors or any other behaviors observed in the workplace. Organizations should really focus on two kinds of factors to change their employees’ behavior, whether that be with a reward structure of their choosing or the way that they’re providing feedback to employees.
Employees are going to inevitably repeat behaviors for which they are rewarded. For example, if an employee is rewarded for their productivity, he or she is going to focus on productive behaviors and, as a result, this will help to drive productivity. If an employee is rewarded on safety, he or she is going to focus on those safety behaviors – after all, that’s where the rewards come from – and you’ll observe employees repeating behaviors that are more safety-oriented and promote safety in the workplace. It’s important for organizations to find that balance between their organizational goals and their reward structure and try to promote the behaviors that will reward their employees and allow them to achieve those organizational goals in the end.