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How to create effective employee incentive programs

Posted on April 15th, 2015 Read time: 2 minutes

Parts of HR services involve fostering employee relationships and building the success of your company. Employee incentives are an excellent tool for achieving these goals in the workplace. According to the Houston Chronicle, the purpose of employee incentives is to break up the monotony of everyday tasks that decreases employee motivation. Rewarding accomplishments and commendable effort instills a new level of enthusiasm, because now employees have a reason to work harder. Plus, those who feel unappreciated may find work elsewhere, contributing to higher turnover rates. However, incentive programs are only effective if done correctly. Follow these four tips to creating a successful employee incentive program:

  1. Understand what employee wants
    One employee's idea of a reward may be different than another's. Workforce Magazine highlights preferred incentives that range from a day off of work to frequent pats on the back. There's no telling what your business's employees want without asking them, so take a survey of what types of incentives would keep them motivated. Be sure to ask a wide variety of employees in different job positions and levels to collect the most accurate information.
  2. Set the bar high enough
    When planning an incentive strategy, make sure you don't put a cap on accomplishments. For example, in a sales job, a company may set a limit on commission. What happens when there's a high-achieving employee who could definitely go beyond that goal? He or she will probably only put in enough work to meet the capped commission since there's no monetary point in going further. Be sure that your incentive programs allows employees to reach their full potential.
  3. Keep it simple
    Rewards don't have to include extravagant trips or huge financial prizes. While these can certainly be saved for extremely high accomplishments or only supplied once a year, there are more financially sound alternatives for the day-to-day awards. Forbes makes several suggestions that don't cost much money at all, including publicly recognizing specific employees by posting a thank-you note with their names in the lobby, taking employees out to lunch, addressing their accomplishments in a company-wide email and swapping job tasks with them for a day.
  4. Know what to look out for
    Unfortunately, some incentive programs can create hostility in a work environment. Those who just never seem to meet the requirements may feel discouraged or even resentful toward the people who are succeeding. If this is the case, consider keeping awards confidential or finding ways to recognize smaller accomplishments.

Incentive programs are a great plan to promote positive attitudes around the office, but they take some time and consideration during development. Understand the culture of your work environment to create the most effective employee incentive program.

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