Incentive Programs And Productivity
Motivated employees can make the difference between a successful business and one that consistently struggles in the marketplace. In addition to offering a competitive salaries and benefits package, businesses are increasingly turning to employee incentive programs as a way to influence retention, engagement and motivation.
As business writer Nicole Fallon Taylor notes, offering rewards like “gift cards, extra time off and free lunch isn’t just a nice thing to do for your employees—it’s great for businesses in the long run, too.”
The most effective employee incentive programs start by outlining what a business wants to achieve. Which of these goals might work best for your company?
- Attract quality job candidates. Businesses with a thriving incentive program will draw more interest from prospective job seekers, simply because it demonstrates their commitment to rewarding exceptional performance on the job.
- Promote desired behavior. An incentive program can be designed to reward certain types of behavior, which also leads to greater productivity.
- Encourage professional growth. Every business needs employees who are eager to learn. Incentives that reward personal and professional growth also benefit the business in terms of fostering a highly skilled workforce.
A viable incentive program can include all of the above, while also boosting employee satisfaction and retention.
What type of program might work best for your business?
Employees universally welcome a cash bonus, though they often end up using the money to pay bills and mundane obligations. Gift cards, on the other hand, are more of a “luxury” incentive. Whether used for dinner at a fancy restaurant or an afternoon of fun at a popular theme park, the focus is on a pleasurable experience, rather than just the money itself.
An incentive program based on specific employee privileges is another popular option. Many employees will be motivated to work harder when the reward includes something like a reserved parking space, a flexible work schedule, a free lunch or a paid day off. Such “privilege rewards” often require little expense on the employer’s part.
Another option involves the use of a point system to boost productivity. This approach can be used to drive certain desired behaviors — attendance, punctuality, safety on the job, referrals for open positions, and so on. As employees accumulate points, they can look forward to purchasing a reward of their own choosing.
An incentive program can also focus on team accomplishments. This approach emphasizes the value of a collective effort (and results). Such team-based incentive programs significantly enhance collaboration and bolster the sense among employees that “we’re all in this together.”
Keep in mind that a cookie-cutter incentive program is unlikely to achieve the goals of your business. Rather, design a program that fits organically within your business culture and reinforces your strategic objectives.
“No matter what type of perks and incentives you decide to give, it's important to tailor them to what your employees value most,” notes business writer Sarah Pierce. “When employees feel appreciated, they'll reward you back with their hard work and loyalty.
Julie Feece is Vice President North America – Marketing for RPG Card Services, a sales and marketing organization specializing in offering gift card program services to nationally recognized retailers for their B2B and B2C programs. She has held leadership roles in the incentive gift card industry for over 17 years and has been with RPG for the past 10 years.