You have incentive programs for your employees. Your company has invested thousands of dollars for those great incentive travel and office competitions. We know intuitively that every individual is motivated by different rewards, so why do employee rewards programs always seem to get an eye-roll from employees? Employee rewards just don’t connect with enough people to be meaningful and don’t seem to drum up much interest.
The problem really lies with the structure of these standard employee incentive programs—not the content of the rewards. For employees to really buy into a program, you have to build a rewards system based on differentiated goals, meaningful metrics, and guaranteed social currency. Here’s how that plays out in real time.
How to Build Successful Staff Reward and Recognition Programs
1. Differentiate your departments
The assumption that “every individual needs to be rewarded differently” isn’t exactly accurate. Sure, we all have personal preferences that play into our willingness to work hard for a reward. But when it comes to employee incentives, the differentiating factor isn’t so much individual-based as it is department-based.
When done well, employee recognition is closely tied with peer recognition. In a corporate setting, peer groups tend to correspond directly with team boundaries. Knowing this, the biggest question isn’t “How will I differentiate rewards for every single individual in my company?” Instead, you should be asking “How will I support different department teams in different ways?”
Yes, this means you might need to establish a separate recognition and rewards system for each of the big teams in your company. It’s definitely a paradigm shift. But we consider this the first step in building a successful reward program. Start by drawing broad boundary lines around your different departments. Only then can you set goals that really matter for each group.
2. Set appropriate metrics
What’s measured matters. It’s a tired motto, but perfectly true when it comes to corporate motivational strategy. Most employee recognition programs fail because they’re not built on objective metrics. Or because they’re rewarding the wrong behaviors—the metrics they were built to measure aren’t actually the right ones.
For example, let’s take a look at common motivational tactics on the sales floor. Most sales organizations schedule competitions and days of increased activity in order to get everyone enthusiastically involved in a periodic sales push. They most often reward dials and deals.
Both of these metrics are highly problematic. If you measure dials, you’re rewarding scattershot prospecting and rushed client conversations. If you measure deals, you’re rewarding sheer luck. The sales reps who diligently work high potential leads during the push go completely unrecognized if they’re not able to close. A more motivating program for your sales team might involve a weighted points system that rewards each activity level according to its relative importance.
Appropriate metrics are the backbone for effective employee goal setting. Sit down with your employees and discuss which metrics make the most sense to measure and reward for each of your big teams. You might be surprised how much this often-overlooked step impacts the overall effectiveness of your program.
3. Establish high value rewards
Finally, it’s time to select rewards that will really be exciting for your employees. Name brand gear is one way to go for some teams. By setting up a company store with goods from Nike, Bose, Oakley, and Apple, you’re guaranteeing that employees can find something they’re really interested in working toward. These rewards work because they’re come with high monetary value and carry their own kind of social currency.
You can also tap into the social currency element with far more gains. The goal is to establish a system of bragging rights among the employees in each of your teams. You may be surprised that you can build a powerful recognition program with something as simple as branded apparel where products are earned. Wouldn’t you want to set apart as the best in your company or industry?
Take Comcast for example. Their Pyramid of Excellence (POX) incentive campaign is an elite program that inspires pride in employees at all levels of the organization. They reward high scores in customer experience with branded apparel items which have become extraordinarily popular and respected over the years. Some employees become repeat winners 3, 10, and even 19 times over because they’re so invested in the program.
One employee said: “I feel proud to wear my gear. My coworkers see me wearing it and can see the results of my work ethic.” Another reports: “When I wear my products, I feel proud of everything that I’ve accomplished.”
These are the high value rewards you want to establish in your staff rewards and recognition programs. They’re both intrinsically and extrinsically motivating, and inspire widespread participation in the program because they provide the perks that employees care about most.
Incentivize Your Employees
Building your own incentive programs is not an easy task. It requires patience, determination, and a significant time investment on behalf of management staff. Launching a program and maintaining a program are both equally heavy lifts. No wonder so many corporations resort to simple and standard employee incentives!
While you do need to provide input for any incentive program you plan to implement, you definitely don’t have to go it alone. A great employee incentive firm will walk you through the entire process of crafting a successful staff reward and recognition program. You can expect a prospective partner to handle most of the heavy lifting, and to help you adapt and maintain the system as needed for years to come.
At Inproma, we believe employee incentive programs should be both effective and easy to implement. We’re experts at creating customized staff reward and recognition programs for companies of all sizes. Want to know what kind of incredible program we can create for your company? Let’s talk.