There are some people in this world who are driven by an intrinsic desire to be the best they can be all of the time, every time. When confronted with even the most menial or mundane task, these self-fueled individuals approach it with gusto and complete it to the absolute best of their abilities. Why? The only acceptable job, they passionately believe, is a job well done.
The Things That Get Rewarded Get Done
Then there are the rest of us. The vast majority of us are "What's in it for me?" types. Sometimes we give it our all because it's the right thing to do. Mostly, though, we give it our all because we know if we do a good job, we'll be rewarded. It's true: If you want your employees to work hard for you, you'll dangle before them an irresistible carrot, in the form of enticing incentives to keep them motivated.
Study: Spend More (on Incentives) to Make and Keep More (Profit)
A few years ago, a recruiting firm in the United Kingdom set out to quantify how effective incentives actually are. They surveyed a cross-section of employees in the engineering, sales and creative sectors and concluded that:
- 85% of employees are more motivated to give it their all at work when an incentive is offered.
- 73% reported workplace morale to be "good" or "very good" during an incentive period.
- Employee reward programs boosted a company's profits by -- wait for it -- an astonishing $123,600 per week, on average!
Not only does higher morale increase productivity and profits, but it also decreases a company's turnover rate. Obviously, if employees are in a good mood at work and feel like their employers value them, they'll be less likely to look for a new job. If you can reduce employee turnover, you'll be saving your company a significant amount of money. According to Employee Benefit News, any time an employee leaves, an employer will spend about 33% of that individual's annual salary to identify, attract and train a replacement.
Key Components of an Effective Incentive Program
Anyone can throw together an employee reward program. That doesn't mean it will be an effective employee reward program. You get back the effort that you put into it! If you're going to devote the time and resources to develop an employee incentive program, here are some things you've got to keep in mind.
Make Sure They'll Actually Want to Win the Prize You're Offering Them
First and foremost, if you plan to offer perks or rewards to entice your team to work harder, you've got to make sure those perks or rewards are things they actually want. What makes you tick? What gets your attention, makes you swell with pride or motivates you to give it your all? Is it the promise of a bonus if you meet certain sales targets? Is it the anticipation of being recognized in front of an audience of your peers? Is it a shiny trophy or plaque you can display proudly? What about a gift card, an extra vacation day or an invitation to lunch or dinner with the boss?
Cater your incentive program to appeal to the employees you most want or need to motivate. The great thing about this is that you can change your incentives whenever you need to target different departments or individual employees.
Make Sure Your Program Is Designed to Achieve a High Participation Rate
This is somewhat tricky. When you're launching an employee incentive program to reward performance or attitude, you'll take the wind out of your sails if you require employees to participate. Incentive programs are supposed to be fun and motivational; they're not supposed to feel like directives from the higher-ups. They're also not supposed to be time-consuming or confusing. If you keep your incentive program simple and relevant, your employees won't have any reason not to participate! The more people participate, the more buzz you'll generate and the more impactful your effort will be.
Harness the Power of Technology to Empower Your Employees
The larger your team is, the more essential it is to harness technology to explain your incentive program, track employee progress toward earning the incentives you offer, and announce who wins what awards when. A points-based incentive program is an easy way for your team to keep track of how they're doing. For an incentive program to work, its goals must be clear and consistent, its goals must be achievable and its reward recipients must be publicized to serve as motivation for your entire team.
An effective incentive program has also got to be designed to be versatile, flexible and easy to administer so you can change course at any time. For instance, if you've got a new VIP client or a huge project with a looming deadline, you'll probably want to supercharge your incentive offerings and frequency to get full participation from your team. You could offer one-time opportunities for employees to accomplish a certain task to earn extra points toward to propel them closer toward the finish line of your points based incentive program.
When you've got scores, hundreds or thousands of employees to motivate, a poster board, company email or word of mouth are ridiculously ineffective. It's essential to reach your employees where they're most comfortable and most active: on their devices. Specifically, on their PCs and smartphones. Get their attention by stoking their competitive spirit and making them want to gain maximum points recognition and win! The most effective incentive programs excite, engage and empower employees on a platform they're comfortable with. The technology exists. It's ubiquitous. Use it!