12 Mar Striking the right balance with incentives
Offering rewards and showing appreciation for good performance are surefire ways to keep everyone up and about.
Incentives are an important part of workplace culture but it’s up to you to make the right call on which ones are necessary.
The most obvious way to incentivise strong performance is with a bonus. “Better performance equals more money” is a pretty straightforward way of motivating people but it tends to work.
The tricky part is knowing exactly the right time to award them. You can’t be stingy and make them unattainable but you don’t want to hand them out like lollies either.
Like any goal, working towards a bonus should be challenging yet achievable. Keeping bonuses well within each worker’s capabilities will ensure they’re all a chance of reaching their potential and feeling better for it.
Raises and stock options are also significant but should be kept infrequent, otherwise this kind of incentive becomes unsustainable.
These incentives are all different forms of patting someone on the back. Shows of recognition need to be genuine and heartfelt.
If Employee of the Month seems a bit outdated, a general show of appreciation will be just as valued. Company meetings are a great time to show an employee they have been noticed for their hard work.
Certificates of achievement are what you make of them. If it becomes a game of “Whose turn it is this week?”, it won’t have any meaning or value.
You can’t let your employees mistake kindness for weakness. It’s essential that you always remain respected but not taken for granted.
Making achievement awards difficult to attain makes sure every single one is hard-earned and important. Otherwise, you run the risk of making them purely notional and meaningless.
Gift-giving doesn’t have to be limited to Christmases and birthdays. Rewarding an employee with a gift from the heart will show a great deal of how much a company cares about them on a personal level.
Giving a new rod to someone who loves fishing will say a lot more about your company’s personal connection to them than a small, one-off bonus of $200.
Service anniversaries are always a great opportunity to show how much you care.
With people changing jobs much more frequently these days, it’s so important to repeatedly make your current staff feel wanted, especially so if they’ve worked with you for a long time.
None of these gifts need to be excessive or especially valuable. The most important factor is that they fully demonstrate the personal connection your company has with them.
These kinds of incentives rely heavily on company- or department-wide events. Social gatherings are a great way to make everyone socialise outside of the pressure cooker.
Whether you host a sporting event, family gathering or Friday night drinks on behalf of the company, these events need to make everyone feel wanted by their employer and included by their peers.
The emphasis is on appreciation. At some point, you need to explicitly say how much you appreciate the people in your organisation.
It’s staggering that workplaces without this kind of culture still exist. It defies logic that employees would work harder for a company that doesn’t value them.
Making your employees self-motivated takes a significant load off your shoulders because you don’t need to constantly reassure them they need to work hard.
Incentives need to be a mixture of things: well-earned, valuable, genuine and attainable spring to mind.
If you make sure all your employees are regularly reminded of how much your business cares about them and their output, you’ll win them over to work as hard as possible for your sake as well as theirs.