Incentive Programmes: How Do They Work?

With some businesses struggling to motivate their staff, many have turned to incentive programmes or rewards systems such as that don’t just mean simple ‘employee of the month’ type recognition. Tangible rewards that are spent on something that the person wouldn’t normally buy, like a day out, a meal, or some sort of experience are ones that are really increasing performance.

So How Often Should Rewards Be Given?

The short answer is, as soon as something worth rewarding happens. The sooner an employee is rewarded for something they have done well then they will associate the behaviour with a reward, and repeat the behaviour. The reward should be relative to the behaviour. For instance, if an employee has been working long and hard on something that has paid off massively then the reward should reflect that. If, however, it is a small behaviour then the reward should be less intense.

How Long Should It Go On For?

When you are trying to encourage behaviour for the first time then a consistent cycle of behaviour and reward is essential. After a certain amount of time, you can reward behaviour less frequently but it must remain there. If it is too infrequent then the behaviour will also start to be infrequent. Therefore, the reward scheme should be continuous or until the objectives have been achieved.

What Sort Of Rewards Should Be Given?

A variety of rewards should be available, and not only so you can give rewards appropriate to the behaviour. Employees should be able to choose their own. This is important because without rewards that are of value to the participant, they are rendered worthless. However, as this is a subjective area, being able to choose your reward means that you will receive something that you think is valuable. They also shouldn’t be objects. It might be big and flashy, but they might already have that wide screen TV and therefore it is useless to the person you are trying to reward and ultimately, disappointing. So you’d be better off giving them a voucher worth the same so they can spend it on something they want.

So How Should It Be Implemented?

Set Objectives – What are you trying to achieve through the scheme?
Setting a Budget – This will determine the sorts of rewards you can offer.
Set Targets – These are the objectives on a group or an individual level.
Timescale – How long will the scheme run for? It is dependent on the targets you want to achieve.
The Rewards – Decide on appropriate rewards.
Implementation – Make sure that your staff understand what is expected of them.
Ongoing Feedback – This is necessary so that your employees know their progress in relation to both individual targets as well as company objectives.
Reward Ceremony – Despite the name it needn’t be anything ceremonious, but at the end, the results must be communicated and rewards given.
Reflection – If and when the reward scheme comes to an end, a reflection on what worked well and what didn’t will help the next time you decide to run one.