3 Steps for Building a Quality Employee Incentive Program

As a business, it is important to guide employee achievement and align that achievement within the goals of the organization. These days, however, there is more to incentivizing your employees than simply laying out a bonus structure. Here are three steps for building a quality employee incentive program:

1. Understand employee motivation as it relates to your business goals.

First, determine what matters to your company and what motivates your individual employees, then incentivize accordingly. Look beyond sales goals, and set up incentives for all employees that will improve the health and prosperity of your business as a whole.

Some of your employees may be motivated by money, while others may want more time off, some just want genuine appreciation and still others would work harder for free ski passes, company branded apparel or a tickets to a local sporting event.

By proactively tailoring rewards to the unique individual and their specific accomplishment, you ensure that they are working not only to benefit the company, but themselves as well. According to BH Engagement, companies that actively engage workers profit more than those that do not. If you look at Fortune’s “Best 100 Companies to Work For,” these organizations have averaged an amazing 200.6% return over the past decade.

Financial reward is a great thing, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the equivalent of recognition. Let’s not kid ourselves. It’s a short term solution. Neither is constant praise for average work. Recognition is a key tool in employee retention programs for a reason: people need more than constructive feedback and positive affirmation. They need recognition of extra effort. They need to “feel” it. This will never go away as a basic human need.
— Meghan M. Biro, Forbes

2. Show the love - without delay!

Next, use a combination of short and long term incentive plans. And recognition should always match the effort and results, or it loses meaning. While long-term goals are necessary at the corporate or team level, incentivizing over long timelines becomes difficult due to plain old human nature unless the reward is significant. Quarterly or even monthly goals can have a stronger motivational effect, because the goals are in sight. Also be aware to keep objectives with short timelines achievable - think of how demotivating it might be for someone to be failing month after month.

When great things happen, make public announcements! This doesn't mean taking an ad out in the local paper - although it might! - but the idea is that people feel a stronger sense of appreciation when they are acknowledged in a public manner. Keep in mind that not all goals should be equal as well - your 20-year veteran will have a different target from your college graduate, but completing their distinct objectives is still cause for commemorating the event.

3. Track. Adjust. Repeat.

Just like external marketing plans, internal employee incentive plans should be plotted in detail against a timeline with specific goals that ultimately benefit your company in a variety of ways. Then the results should be tracked to determine effectiveness and the plan tweaked as needed. This should be an ongoing effort as goals and employees change to be sure you are creating a win-win environment for your business and it's people. Sometimes internal spreadsheets are sufficient for tracking, but if more extensive features are needed, external software can help do the trick!

By following these guidelines, you can ensure that you maximize the value of your incentive programs and ultimately raise the achievement of your employees and your company.

Please contact us at Alternative Advertising for more strategies to align your employee achievement programs with your corporate goals.