How do you get the maximum amount of impact from an incentive program, asks Dan Kelly of Corporate Rewards.

Getting the most from your incentive program


How do you get the maximum amount of impact from an incentive program, asks Dan Kelly of Corporate Rewards.

Employee incentives are a great way to drive the performance of a team – offering a goal to work towards and rewards for staff can really help to drive continuing success. But there are some simple steps that employers should take to help maximise the impact of any incentive scheme.

Build Hype

Before the incentive program even starts, you should be trying to build interest among your team. Don’t just spring it on them as a surprise – let them know in advance what’s going on and why. That way, the incentive won’t seem like it’s just suddenly being dropped on them.

The idea is you build anticipation in order to make sure staff are enthusiastic going into the incentive, which is likely to make them more interested in participating and more motivated to work towards a goal.

This can really help to start your incentive off on the right foot, with staff ready and raring to go.

Identify opportunities to train

The incentive shouldn’t just drive staff towards a goal. It should also give you as the employer an opportunity to identify areas of weakness, and identify what steps you need to help train staff so they can improve their performance which, in the long run, benefits your business.

You might identify a problem throughout your team that needs to be addressed with a group training session; or you might discover smaller individual issues which can be remedied with one to one training or mentoring, such as refining sales technique, or reiterating how to use specific systems and processes within your business.

Reward throughout the incentive

While it’s a good idea to have a final grand prize, you should also be offering smaller rewards to staff on a daily or weekly level. This maintains excitement and interest, and also allows the reward element to be spread more widely across your employees. Acknowledging performance throughout the lifespan of an incentive can help to maintain momentum and motivation.

So consider offering rewards for the person with the highest sales during a shift, or the person who has made the most progress towards the incentive that week. The reward doesn’t need to be something big – a voucher or a small reward can serve as acknowledgement that the hard work being done.

Recognise High Performance

While you should be offering a range of incentives so that as many people can participate as possible, there should be a final ‘star prize’ incentive, and the person who gets it should be the staff member who has had the most consistent levels of high performance.

Their reward needs to be something substantial to highlight that hard work and effort are rewarded. This is often something major like a trip, or access to a major event. The aim is to provide a prize that people will wish they’d won, giving an extra level of motivation going into your next incentive program.

Maintain Momentum

Following the conclusion of your incentive scheme (assuming it’s not a rolling program), it is important to try and maintain the momentum and performance level it has created.

Continuing to recognise performance and running small incentives can help to do this. The key should be to begin to build hype and encourage staff to work towards fun, attainable goals. This helps to create much stronger foundations for future incentives to be successful.

Incentives can be a hugely rewarding undertaking, not just for your staff but also for your business in terms of increased sales, increased performance, higher morale and reduced staff turnover.

Dan Kelly is a founding partner and Sales and Marketing Director of Corporate Rewards, which offers a range of services for employers looking to run incentive and motivation programs for employees and channel staff, working with some of the world’s largest companies such as Microsoft and Dell in his position as Sales and Marketing Director.

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