Effective Employee Incentive Programs

employee incentive program

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In today’s competitive job market being a great place to work can increase the chances for hiring a great employee and keeping them for the long term. I don’t know the statistics of companies with employee incentive programs but I’d be surprised if the top 100 companies to work for in United States don’t have some sort of program. I think that’s one of the reasons they are great places to work – they value their employees.

Harding Working Team
Employees Like to be Recognized

Employee incentive programs come in many different forms: cash bonuses, commissions, merchandise, trips, gift cards, food, time off or flex time and more. The primary goal of most incentive programs is to motivate the employee to be more productive (greater sales, fill more orders, get more done). The most successful programs are easy for the employee to understand and for the company to implement.

Keep it Simple

If it takes you a long time to explain the program to your employees then they will probably decide it’s too complicated to achieve whatever carrot you are dangling. Keep it simple.

One of our clients introduced a program in 2002. They wanted to make sure their employees knew that they recognized their hard work and wanted to reinforce the values that they held as a company. And, yes, they are one of the top 100 places to work in the United States.

The program encouraged employees to go above and beyond their regular duties in their seven levels of excellence to receive points that they could redeem for merchandise and be entered into the employee of the year award. The employee of the year received recognition at the annual company dinner, a cash bonus and a coveted parking spot for a year.

The program is still going strong in 2014. The employees nominate peers or a supervisor nominates an employee to receive a “reward”. The program went online in 2006 so they expanded their merchandise offerings to include more items at each point level (they have 12 levels). We have inexpensive “immediate gratification” type items (think caps, pens, coffee mugs) to those items that they accumulate their points for higher end brand name merchandise like a GPS, luggage and electronics.

The company annually achieves their goals of increasing awareness and productivity. They have also realized an added bonus. This company has a lot of meetings with participation from many different departments and the program has uncovered many engaged employees that were not previously being recognized for their increased efforts.

At their monthly meetings the supervisors hand out the rewards, reinforcing once again the positive behavior for all the employees.

Chair Massage Incentive
Employees Love the Chair Massage Incentive

With the success of this program they added a departmental incentive program in 2004. The departments have specific quarterly goals to meet. The program is designed to encourage the department to be a team achieving goals together for a full year. The quarterly incentives are enhanced each quarter.

For example, each employee in the department achieving their goals during the first quarter receive a lunch certificate for the cafeteria and chair massages. If they make it the full 12 months the department is recognized at the annual dinner and receive points to redeem for high end merchandise – cameras, DVD players, luggage.

It’s not complicated. People appreciate being recognized. A well thought out, easy to understand incentive program typically will pay for itself in increased productivity, increased job satisfaction and lower turnover for the company.

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