Taking a quick spin around today’s job boards, it’s clear that companies are vying with each other to attract the best talent. Some advertise an incredible list of perks—extra weeks of PTO, exercise classes, free meals, stock options—and the fringe benefits keep getting bigger and more bizarre. Do you really need to offer free in-house massage to get people excited about your company?
Overall, there’s one thing missing from the majority of these job listings, and it happens to be the one thing employees are looking for. New hires and veterans alike want to be appropriately recognized and appreciated for the hard work they do. They’re looking for a company that will allow them to thrive, both personally and professionally, and recognize their good performance in a meaningful way. Unless that culture of recognition is there, no amount of free perks will get your team members invested in their long-term growth with your company.
If you’re trying to figure out how to reward employees for good performance, It’s time to implement an incentive program that gives employees what they really want: recognition.
How to Reward Employees for Good Performance
First, let’s take a look at an example of an employee rewards program that really works.
The Pyramid of Excellence (POX) program implemented by Comcast is the perfect example of a great employee incentive program. The entire system revolves around metrics—predetermined goals that are both measurable and attainable for every individual employee on the team. When an individual employee meets a milestone, they earn a reward, and there are multiple levels to be won.
The POX system is beautifully simple. This program functions because it’s based on solid metrics and allows for multiple repeat winners, rewarded with different apparel each time. This lets employees feel consistently and regularly recognized for their hard work. But the main reason it works is because of bragging rights and products are seen as a badge of honor.
The incentives of this program are even simpler than the structure. When an employee reaches each goal, they’re rewarded with an article of high-quality branded apparel advertising their POX achievement. Employees love wearing their gear. They feel proud to stand out for their hard work, and love working hard for the next reward. Bragging rights is the most valuable social currency in a corporation—and by implementing the Pyramid of Excellence program, Comcast provided employees with the reward that matters most.
Why Standard Employee Rewards Don’t Work
Unless you’re looking closely, Comcast’s incentive program might look a lot like the other incentive schemes that are currently being used at companies across the nation. But there’s one crucial discrepancy that makes all the difference to employees. Most employee incentive programs only reward the top 5% of performers at a given time.
Take the standard “President’s Club” idea that’s commonly used among sales departments. A sales rep has the opportunity to earn a free vacation if they exceed their quota each year. Yet somehow very few individuals end up earning that reward in the end—even when companies report an average of 70% quota achievement across the floor. If they’re smart, employees will realize by about May whether or not they’re tracking to earn that reward and they’ll adjust their work behaviors accordingly. Plenty will drop out of the program, and others won’t even start. There are plenty of better ways to reward your entire sales team.
The superstar performers at your company are used to receiving recognition and rewards. In order for your incentive program to work on a grand scale, you need to figure out a way to motivate the other 95%.
How to Begin
In the end, it’s not that difficult to figure out how to reward employees for good performance. Whether you’re running a midsize startup or a booming global enterprise, you can apply the principles of successful employee rewards programs in order to boost engagement, attract new talent, and improve retention rates. You just need to implement a system that includes:
- Metric-based goals for each employee that are reasonable and attainable
- Multiple winners for every goal, and multiple goals for every winner
- High-value reward items that pull their weight in social currency
Of course, every employee rewards program also relies on proper marketing, implementation, and maintenance to be successful over time. If you don’t have the bandwidth to design and maintain the kind of incentive program that will reward your employees’ performance in a meaningful way, consider partnering with a company who can take care of it for you.
Inproma is an employee incentive design firm with over 20 years of experience implementing programs in a corporate setting. We’re pros at helping CEOs figure out how to reward employees for good performance in a way that really matters. Want to learn more about our unique approach to employee incentives? Let’s talk.