Employee incentives programs can significantly improve your bottom line but must address specific needs or you’re wasting time, energy and money. Below are some high level tips to consider when thinking about implementing a new employee incentives program.
Do provide immediate and continuous feedback and rewards: Gen Y and Gen X employees respond best to immediate reinforcement. Behavior is shaped by closely tying the desired activity to praise, recognition, and incentive rewards. Delaying these things until the end of a quarter, month or week significantly reduces their value and the likelihood that the desired activity will be continued.
Do look at an incentive program as on-going: Long-term employee incentives programs produce twice the results of short-term ones. If you’re serious about permanently improving workforce performance, employee incentives programs should run indefinitely.
Do break-down the components of activities: Rather than offer monthly, quarterly and annual incentives for “milestone” goals and achievements, examine the sub-components that comprise them. A small daily incentive reward for attendance with additional rewards for Mondays and Fridays will produce better results than a monthly perfect attendance award. Reward the daily homework, and the final grade will take care of itself.
Do offer choice of incentive rewards: Management can’t be clairvoyant when selecting incentive rewards. Many times, catalog merchandise is highly overpriced and reduced further in value when the employee sees the amount of taxes withheld. Award certificates and plaques look nice on the wall but do not change behavior. Employees want to choose their reward, thus ample choices at a fair value is a must. Many times the best way to accomplish this is with gift cards or debit cards that allow the employee to select a reward that they value at the best possible price.
Do allow participants to earn incentive and recognition related rewards frequently: Many points-based incentive reward programs require weeks or months to accumulate enough points for redemption. Try to offer rewards under $10, especially when offering gift cards as a reward options. In most cases your employees would rather get $10 in incentive rewards a day as opposed to a $200 dollar reward once a month.
Don’t spread your employee incentives budget too thin: Be realistic with your available budget. If money is tight, you may not be able to target all the areas that you had hoped to improve. You are better off focusing a limited incentive budget on a few key areas. Producing quantifiable results in a few areas may provide you with a strong case when you request a bigger budget from management in the future.
Don’t distribute incentive rewards in regular payroll: When employee incentives are delivered by adding funds to recipient regular paycheck, the motivational power is greatly diminished, By doing this the incentive reward is no longer viewed by the recipient as something “extra” for a job well done. Keeping employee incentive rewards separate from payroll, keeps it special in the eyes of the recipient, reinforcing how the reward was earned. Additionally, the employee can spend the reward without waiting until their next payday.
Do measure the ROI: If you’re not measuring the ROI of your employee incentives and employee recognition programs, how can they be justified? An incentive program is the same as other functions; it must be continuously evaluated and tested with control groups or benchmarked with peers.
Don’t overload yourself with program administration: Too great an administrative burden can cause burnout of even the best employee incentives program administrators. Management’s attitude and opinion of your workforce incentive program is clearly visible to participants.
Do involve management: If you are asking team leaders, supervisors and managers to help in administering and promoting your employee recognition and incentives programs, than they should be eligible to earn rewards. This will get them on board which will result in higher levels of engagement and participation
Do ask for feedback: Keep it fresh: Take regular surveys of the participants to see what they like or want changed. Respond quickly to input. Actively solicit feedback and reward it.
Do brag about your employee recognition and incentives program: Use employee comments about your incentive program in the “careers” section of your web site and in recruitment brochures.
Do participate in outside surveys: A great way to evaluate your employee incentives and recognition programs against peer groups is to participate in surveys. Many are anonymous and often participation entitles you to a free copy of the report.