Motivating through Incentives

Getting employees motivated through the proper incentive.

I once worked for a company that thought by allowing me to keep a coffee cup sent to me from a vendor as an advertisement giveaway, was a motivation incentive.  I remember the owners wife, the Vice President saying “You got more than me today”.  As I look back at that company, most employees were motivated… to run as far away from that company as possible.  I relived this memory just the other day while listening to  a panel discussion sponsored by the Professional Women’s Network, Pick the Brains of a Bunch of Smart Chicks.  The question was asked of the 3-women panel was — What type of incentives do they offer their employees? The general consensus was gift card – money motivates.

Later that week, I read an article in the Chicago Tribune Top Companies to Work For and found companies are offering many more incentives than just money.  Google, as we all know lavishes their employees with perks from riding a skateboard in the office to catered lunches.  However, many of us don’t work for billion dollar companies. Our incentive perks are getting to order our favorite pen from the office supply house.

So how can we implement an incentive plan that doesn’t cost mega dollars? The trick is knowing your employees.  Think of it as buying a present for Grandma Susie – you need to know what they like and dislike. Giving Grandma Susie an iTunes gift card doesn’t do much for her if she doesn’t own an iPod.  Making the incentive something that they will cherish or use will give more good will to the company and to the boss.

Imagine, your boss walks into your office to chat and she starts talking about family and how she uses Skype, a free Internet service for video communication, to chat with family.  She knows you have kids out of state and through the conversation learns that you have never used it because you don’t have a good webcam.  The next day in the office, is a webcam setup in your office and the boss is giving you a quick demonstration on how it works – at the very end she tells you the webcam is yours to keep – take it home and enjoy it!

Incentives are more than gadgets and perks, it is about understanding the person and showing that you care. People who care about you will give a 100% and loyal will run high.  What more do you want from you employees – their efforts make the company grow.  Reward them appropriately not only financially, but also with incentives and you will have employees that you your competitors could only dream of hiring.

Tips to Creating Good Incentives

  • Understand the person getting the incentive
  • Do some fact finding – talk to co-workers or spouse – learn their likes
  • Make the incentive unique and personal
  • Reward appropriately – If they just earned the company a 1 million dollar account – forget the webcam, buy them the dam computer!
  • Incentives are for all employees, janitors to upper management
  • Don’t make the mistake of increasing the value of incentive just because they are a VP – incentives are showing you care for their hard work – a paycheck  amount is determined by their title.

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