We heard a great story this week that got us thinking about the power of positive reinforcement, and made us crave some sugar for our afternoon tea as well! Yes, that second part may be unrelated, but stay with us, you’ll soon see what we mean.
In the 1970’s, the sugar cane fields in Swaziland and South Africa were staffed by loads of people who would, shall we say, ‘push the limits’ a little when it came to driving from the field to the mill and back. Drivers had to cover hundreds of kilometres a day, and would often drive fast, with excessive braking and cornering. What were the managers to do?
A new scheme was introduced, whereby people would be rewarded for good driver behaviour, rather than punished for the bad. How? A simple device was installed in cars which would record any speeding or sudden braking, which would indicate unsafe driving. The interesting thing though, was that every driver would be given a bonus to start with. Subsequent recorded events of unsafe driving meant that money was subtracted from the total. That all got us thinking about positive reinforcement, and how research shows how much more effective it is to start from a reward-based perspective, rather than a punishment.
GPS units can of course do something pretty similar today, in recording driving events. What about giving staff a bonus at the beginning of the month or year, and removing this only when a driver breaks the law or drives unsafely? This, combined with a proactive driver-training programme such as Fleetcoach can provide positive training rather than punishment, and allow drivers to feel empowered, rather than chastised.
What do you think, would your organisation try it? We’re keen to hear what you think!