Create A Successful Incentive Program In Six Steps

carrotIncentive programs are essential drivers of employee motivation, loyalty and morale.  Regardless of the size of the company or the budget, successful incentive programs will recognize outstanding employees; make good employees great, and give the lowest performers the opportunity to become more focused on skills improvement and positive results.  These programs can be structured for a company-wide audience intended to boost employee morale or improve the customer experience – or they can be designed to target just one department that may be working on a time-sensitive project that requires long hours and razor sharp focus.

In any case, getting started can be the most difficult part of creating a successful incentive  program.  Beginning with a simple outline will help the conversation get started.

  1. Set Your Goals:   Figure out what you hope to achieve when the program ends.   You may want to increase warehouse productivity, improve safety or simply reduce the amount of time your call-in customers are kept on “hold”.   You can have more than one goal, and most likely you will have different goals for each group of participants.
  2. Determine How You Will Measure ROI:    A variety of metrics can be employed, such as number of packages shipped, monthly sales, lost-time accidents, etc.   Decide how you will measure the results, and assign someone to manage that data.
  3. Decide The Budget:    You need a budget for the entire program, and a breakdown of how that budget will be spent over the course of the program. For example, $20,000 for the whole program budget; $4000 disbursed quarterly; and the balance allocated to the top achievers at the end of the year.
  4. Select Award Items:    Premium merchandise, customized items and possibly travel are all options for outstanding programs.   The best programs avoid cash or gift cards so that the rewards become individual goals that each person identifies, such as a gas grill, TV or weekend getaway (for the larger programs) – or brand-name apparel, sports gear or the newest small tech gadget (for the smaller budgets).
  5. Launch The Program Loudly!   Create excitement with an employee kickoff meeting and a low-cost giveaway (pen, mug, phone decal, etc) printed with the company logo and program message.   Keep the message alive with emails, posters, and follow-up small gift reminders.
  6. Build The Buzz!    Engage everyone as often as possible.  Announce monthly winners; post daily or weekly figures on how close you are to the goal; keep up the email communication with program reminders.

There are many industry polls and statistics that prove how well incentive programs work to motivate employees.   Now that we are at the beginning a of a new year, with new goals and challenges, choose to lay the groundwork for a successful incentive program and enjoy the rewards that will follow.  Six steps will get you started!

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