Small business rebate impact evaluation 2015-2016

Overview

The Small Business Rebate Program has been offered by SafeWork NSW since 2007 and was revised in 2012. The rebate currently provides a one-off subsidy of up to $500 to NSW employers with 0-50 fulltime employees (or equivalent). The rebate is paid to business owners after the purchase and installation of eligible safety equipment or improvements.

Participants were a mix of applicants of the rebate program from financial years 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2015-16.

Benefits of the review

The results of this evaluation are being used to inform improvements to the Small Business Rebate program.

SafeWork NSW engaged an external contractor to evaluate the Small Business Rebate program to obtain insights into whether the rebate program is effective and achieving its intent and purpose. Of specific interest was the impact of the rebate on businesses and their ongoing approaches to safety.

The results of this review are being used to develop recommendations for potential improvements to the program.

Objectives of the review were to:

  • Investigate whether the rebate program has resulted in reducing the risk of injury within the business and if there has been an ongoing commitment to improving safety
  • Examine if the rebate has decreased the rate and incidence of workplace accidents, injuries and ‘near misses’
  • Explore if the rebate has increased awareness of the relationship between investing resources in safety and improved business outcomes
  • Investigate whether the program has an impact on improving the knowledge and skills of small business owners to address safety problems in the business

Review results

The respondents were 14 participants who attended a focus groups in either Newcastle or North Sydney. In addition there were 38 participants for the in-depth telephone interviews, 15 were from the Sydney metropolitan metro and 23 from regional NSW.

Program discovery and its impact on participants:

  • Many participants advised they had “stumbled upon the program by accident”.
  • Participants spoke of the need for SafeWork NSW to better publicise the program and inform on how it works, the benefits and process
  • After receiving a rebate, more than 35 per cent of businesses went on to make further safety improvements in their workplaces
  • SafeWork interactions aimed at building knowledge and skills (workshops, visits, webinars, etc.) helped businesses identify and adopt good safety solutions

The impact and importance of word of mouth and experience:

  • Positive word of mouth and experience with the rebate program is critical to its success and drives participant engagement, particularly in regional areas
  • Many participants indicated they heard positive stories about the rebate and the process
  • The positive experience served to change business’ perception of the role of SafeWork NSW, shifting it from being a “bad cop” to “an educator”

Business sector:

  • The specific industry sector is important and impacts on the degree to which the individual is engaged in the concept of workplace safety prior to engagement in the program
  • Businesses in all sectors show benefit from engagement
  • Better control of discovery and message setting.
    • Build a pool of rebate champions through case studies.
    • Strengthen the presence of the rebate online.
    • Leverage existing partnerships/relationships to drive engagement and promote the rebate.
  • Once engaged with businesses, improve follow-up and reinforcement – take them from “good” to “best”.
  • Strengthen and tailor education materials.
    • Provide industry or sector tailored content for webinars that is engaging and relevant.
    • Increase the availability of webinars.
    • Use case studies as a promotional tool.
  • Better leverage the strengths of the application process for discovery.
    • Provide tailored forms for specific sectors/type of business operation.
    • Provide more detail regarding webinars and training.
    • Clarify follow-up options to prevent secondary contact getting ‘lost’ or ‘misused’.

Recommendations for SafeWork

  • Better control of discovery and message setting.
    • Build a pool of rebate champions through case studies.
    • Strengthen the presence of the rebate online.
    • Leverage existing partnerships/relationships to drive engagement and promote the rebate.
  • Once engaged with businesses, improve follow-up and reinforcement – take them from “good” to “best”.
  • Strengthen and tailor education materials.
    • Provide industry or sector tailored content for webinars that is engaging and relevant.
    • Increase the availability of webinars.
    • Use case studies as a promotional tool.
  • Better leverage the strengths of the application process for discovery.
    • Provide tailored forms for specific sectors/type of business operation.
    • Provide more detail regarding webinars and training.
    • Clarify follow-up options to prevent secondary contact getting ‘lost’ or ‘misused’.

Further information

A copy of the full report is available by contacting gipa@safework.nsw.gov.au.

While this work has been undertaken according to valid and rigorous methodology, SafeWork NSW acknowledges that any such research is only the perceptions and actions of a sample of the broader population, so the findings must be taken in context with knowledge of our customers and influences on the way we do our work.