Building a Successful Employee Incentive Program

There are two fundamental truths that prevail in the business arena.  The first is that companies are looking for profit and increased employee performance and the second is that employees want to be recognized for their efforts.  When you can combine these two motivations, you have a successful incentive strategy. 

Companies want to make a profit

It should not come as a surprise to anyone, but companies want to build their customer base, increase their sales and keep their employees productive, motivated and loyal to the company.  The path to do this involves simple but effective steps to recognize employees and encourage their performance to increase.

People love to be recognized for their hard work

There are many options to recognize your employees for their work, to motivate improved performance (and an improved bottom line) and to build employee loyalty.  Each of these involves giving something back to your employees that will be valued.  There are several options for incentives that companies often employ.

What kind of incentive is best? 

When designing an incentive program, there are several factors to consider before selecting the best incentive for your company.  The incentive itself should motivate your employees and have a good return on the investment.  In order to find which incentives motivate your employees, you can simply set up a survey, email thread or old fashioned suggestion box.  After all, when your employees are not motivated for the incentive, there is no purpose in putting the effort into designing an incentive program.

Types of incentives:

Cash bonuses or equivalent

Cash bonuses often are used for employee motivation and loyalty building.  After all, everyone like having a little bit extra in their paycheck!  A benefit to using a cash (or gift card) bonus is that your employees can use the extra money to do what they need or want to do and cash is a one size fits all solution.  One drawback, however is that many times, the cash is used for something that the employee needs, rather than wants and may not be as strong a motivator as other options such as tangible goods or an incentive travel option.

Tangible goods or incentive travel

Studies suggest that receiving an item with the same cash equivalent as a bonus usually has a higher perceived value than cash alone for many people.  In addition, combining a training opportunity with incentive meetings may help your company by increasing the ROI in your incentive program.