If you have a multi-generational workforce then a corporate incentive program is an essential tool in your arsenal to keep your employees engaged and motivated.

In the 1950’s, 1960’s and even into the 1970’s, when you joined a company you pretty much assumed you were going to work for that company the rest of your life. You felt it was your duty to come in everyday and do what needed to be done.

Well, as time has progressed and work philosophies have changed there is limited loyalty today in an employer-employee relationship. I have to admit, I changed jobs quiet frequently as I moved up the corporate marketing ladder.

Employees Want to be Recognized for Efforts

And, if you have Millennials (those individuals born from early 1980’s to early 2000s) in your workforce then you definitely need to be considering a corporate incentive program. My first encounter with a millennial in my workforce was quite difficult for me. I am a hands-off manager and expect an employee to just get the job done.  As it turns out, millennials prefer to have lots of praise, recognition and reinforcement of a job well done.

Employee Engagement

Engaged Employees are More Motivated

So, as a business owner for more than 20 years, I have learned that understanding the needs of my employees is necessary if that are to be here for the long haul. We have a “gold star” board – as clients praise our employees the remarks go on the board for all to see. As a thank you for hard work and maybe some extra hours, I am also flexible with time for personal needs (doc appts), provide quarterly bonuses based on our company’s overall performance and of course I try to maintain a relaxed environment. I don’t think a day goes by when we are not laughing. We work very hard and yet we also have fun.

If you haven’t explored a corporate incentive program before there are a few areas to consider. First, you need to determine what the program is intended to accomplish. One of the top reasons for instituting a program is to recognize employees for their efforts. Remember, most employees are pushed to do more and work longer than ever before and in most cases are seeing less in their paychecks and they want that acknowledged.

Second, you need to understand the budgetary needs of an incentive program. Can you estimate the Return on Investment (ROI) of the program? In these uncertain economic times the investment may seem too much of a risk, but on the other hand it may be just the right time to do it. Programs don’t have to be expensive, just effective. As I mentioned before, understanding what helps to motivate and keeps your employees happy is a good step to determining what the proverbial carrot should be in the program.

Thirdly, the program needs to be all inclusive. It shouldn’t be just one department of the company. You may have different “incentives” based on the departmental responsibilities, but everyone should feel that they are part of the corporate team.

Programs usually rely on either peer-to-peer or manager-to-employee recognition. There should be safeguards in place in both to make sure that the system isn’t abused. We instituted a program not too long ago and a whole department got together to give “stars” to each other. Of course, it was discovered quite quickly by the program administrator but if the checks and balances weren’t in place it could have been a disaster.

Remember if you balance the needs for the company’s profitability with the employee need for time, money or recognition you will have a successful program.

Danette Gossett

Danette brings more than 30 years of experience developing advertising campaigns, direct marketing programs and sales promotions to her clients. Prior to starting her companies, she worked for New York advertising agencies including Saatchi & Saatchi & Lowe Marschalk.

Her corporate marketing experience included National Advertising Director for Avis Rent a Car Systems, Inc., and Director of Marketing Services for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. Read More

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