Incentive programs are capable of achieving not only improved operating and financial and performance, but also “fun” in the workplace with an accompanying boost in employee morale.
But there’s a HUGE caveat: to be effective incentives must be driven by the strategy of the organization; they should never have a “life of their own”. The wrong incentive program can create significant performance issues.
Also read: How Effective are Monetary Incentives?
These 5 steps will make your incentives an effective tool.
1. Introduce a “strategic filter” to evaluate the worth of any incentive proposal. If a proposal can’t pass the strategic alignment test, modify it so it complies or don’t introduce it.
An incentive plan NOT directly linked to strategy will create dysfunction and confusion in the workplace.
Incenting sales to flog products, for example, when the strategy is to build intimate customer relationships might make sales happy but it produces zero return on investment as a tool of strategy.
2. Don’t copy what others do. “Me-to” incentives are boring and show employees that your not really interested in creating something special for them. A successful incentive resonates at the highest level with the interests of employees; rarely does importing what someone else does create magic.
Morph what the incentive herd is doing into an approach that recognizes the specific needs of your employees, and that ONLY you provide.
3. Use one-time contests liberally in the workplace. They surprise employees inject a fun component that encourages greater participation.
I introduced “dumb rules” contests to identify internal rules and policies that made no sense to our customers. It worked; participation was unbelievably high, employees had a blast, we made significant progress to “cleansing our internal environment” and customer service results improved dramatically.
4. Communicate the achievers who have reaped the rewards form the incentive plan far and wide in your organization. Share their stories of how they were successful so others see what winning looks like. You want to maximize the involvement of all employees to realize the increased performance benefits for the organization.
5. Measure and track the benefits of each incentive program. Learn from how they perform; eliminate the losers and keep the winners. Continued success with incentives involves rigorous cost – benefit analysis and keeping them in a category that is unmatched by others.
Avoid jumping on the incentives bandwagon unless you are prepared to put the discipline in place to reap the benefits.
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