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7 Tips for Effective Employee Incentive Programs

August 14, 2017

Nearly all organizations run incentive programs to reward top performing employees from time to time.  But not all employee incentive programs achieve the best results.  When designing employee incentive programs, this checklist will provide guidelines to help achieve a positive impact on performance.

Rewarding Performance – a Checklist for Effective Employee Incentive Programs

1. Keep it Simple

Employee incentive programs that are overly complex often struggle to gain traction with participants.  The best employee incentive programs are easy to communicate and easy for participants to understand.  Can you describe to your team  how they can “win” at your incentive program in 8 words or less?

2. Set Goals that are Challenging but Attainable

Employee incentive programs should motivate everyone on your team to achieve their best potential.  If the objective of an employee incentive program is not challenging, it won’t motivate participants to push themselves to grow. On the other hand, if participants feel the objective is impossible to attain, they won’t even try;  it may even backfire and discourage team members or cause resentment.
A benchmark is to choose an objective that 10-15% of your group is likely to achieve.    For example, if the goal is to sell the most widgets during the quarter, only the top 10% of your team is likely to feel they have a shot at winning.  Consider instead setting a goal of increasing personal sales over last quarter by 25%.  Then everyone feels they have a realistic goal to strive for.   The overall results for your organization will be stronger if all participants are pushing themselves toward a challenging but attainable personal goal.

3. Give Your Employee Incentive Program a Name

Just as it’s important for participants to be able to understand your performance incentive program, it’s also crucial to build excitement about the prospect of achieving the top honors.  Put a little creativity into your program.  Give it a fun or inspirational name.  Consider designing a logo to go with your program. Details like these will help make the program memorable.   Check out this list of incentive program names to get your creativity flowing.

4. Promote Employee Incentive Programs Frequently

If you’re involved in running employee incentive programs, remember to put on your marketing hat.  Your participants must remember the incentive program exists in order for it to have an impact.  Create a communication plan that promotes your program frequently to participants.  Place visible reminders of the program in your employees work areas. Consider giving participants a small promotional item with the logo of your employee incentive program that they can keep on their desk or in their personal work area.   At the start of the qualifying period, get your participants geared up by kicking off the program  with some hype and fanfare.    These employee incentive launch ideas will give you some strategies you can use.

5. Keep Participants Informed of Where They Stand

Participants should know at all times where they stand in relation to others in the employee incentive program and how they are progressing toward their goals.  Create a leaderboard where participants can view their stats in real time, seeing how they stack up to others and to the end goal.  The leaderboard should be accessible and visible as employees are working toward the goals.  This will help them stay focused on the objectives and their “eye on the prize.”

6. Exclusive Honors Reinforce Pride for Accomplishments

Choosing the awards for employee incentive programs is an art.  Your incentive package may involve a variety of elements that represent your organization and the achievement in a meaningful way and are unique to your group.  One important piece of the award package should be a tangible item that will serve as a reminder to winners after the program of their achievements.
Employee Incentive awards should be exclusive; an item the individual can’t purchase for themselves.  Plaques and engraved awards are a classic option.  Award Rings  are another unique employee incentive award idea.   A simple way to add impact without a lot of expense is to print custom business cards for award recipients that feature the title of honor they have earned.  An employee recognition provider like Terryberry can help you design an employee incentive awards package that will help you achieve your goals for your program.

7. Make a Big Splash for Winners

The culmination of an employee incentive program is a powerful opportunity to recognize the achievements of your team.  Set aside some budget in your employee incentive program for an award presentation event.  Ideally all participants should attend to honor the ones who have achieved top honors.  Prepare some words to acknowledge each award recipient for their accomplishment.  Need some help?  Here are tips for giving an employee recognition speech.
A well-designed employee incentive program can have a big impact on your organization’s bottom line and can help your team achieve their potential.  Need help designing or executing an employee incentive program?  Terryberry is here to help at any stage of the process.  Contact us to get started.


Comments (1)

  • Ellen Hughes says:

    You got me when you said that sales incentive programs should be easy to understand to make sure that you won’t struggle in finding participants. With that in mind, I’ll ask my supervisor at work to find a pro that can design a sales incentive program for us. He said that he wants us to be motivated in hitting our weekly sales targets to improve the team’s performance. What he wants is to ensure the participation of all the employees to make the program as fun and fulfilling as possible.

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