BP is clearly working on its image. This week, it leaked (and later confirmed) an e-mail that told employees fourth quarter bonuses would be based entirely on safety. This should like a publicity stunt. Here are a few reasons why such a plan is silly.
Just One Quarter?
The first red flag here is that the bonus would be based on safety for just this quarter. Then, a full review of its rewards system will be undertaken. Why not simply complete such a review before creating (and leaking word of) a temporary bonus program? Obviously BP wants to use the program to show that it cares about safety.
In reality, of course, you can't judge safety based on one quarter -- or even several years. The consequences of some mistakes are relatively immediate, like if a drunken tanker captain were to drive into an iceberg. But others might take years to manifest themselves. So really, the only way to ensure that safety is taken fully into account is to defer all bonuses for years, until the company can be sure that all risk related to a given project is gone. That doesn't appear to be what BP is doing here, however.
Safety Matters More for Some Employees Than Others
Moreover, these bonuses are said to apply to all employees in its operating business. Surely, however, some employees' jobs should require more attention to safety than others. Indeed, there are some workers who probably have little to zero effect on the safety of BP's drilling operation. It makes no sense to judge all employees based on safety, and it makes even less sense to judge all employees solely based on safety.