By Derrick Hardman, Managing Director, Capital Incentives & Motivation.
1. Determine clear objectives
Motivation should impact on the bottom line and so motivational objectives must align with business strategy. Identify the opportunities for improvement within the organisation and incorporate them into the motivation programme.
2. Set realistic goals and targets
No one single element is likely to switch people off a motivation programme more comprehensively than a seemingly impossible target. Targets must be realistic and fair and the best way of setting them is often to ask individuals to set their own.
This means that their commitment to achieving the target is greater because the figures are ‘mine’ not ‘yours’. They actually become ‘ours.’ Don’t impose across-the-board objectives – remember you’re dealing with individuals.
3. Select the right awards
It’s dangerous to assume that last year’s successful incentive will appeal again or that particular rewards will prove popular. Conduct research among employees to establish what motivates them now. Merchandise can offer a high-perceived value, while travel often appeals to the imagination.
Remember that is it usually impossible to select an award that will appeal to all participants in a scheme and for this reason vouchers and gift cards are often highly effective as they offer flexibility and freedom, giving recipients the chance to work towards a gift of their own choice.
4. Communicate effectively and frequently
Launch the programme with a bang to excite and engage the audience. ROI increases as employee participation increases. Ensure that the rules are easily understood and that participants know how to achieve objectives and earn awards.
Following the launch, ongoing communication of updates, changes or achievements is vital to maintain momentum. Transparency is important so that the scheme is seen to be fair. Poor communication of awards and the reasons for them is a common pitfall.
5. Have lots of winners – reward all achievers
Nothing succeeds like success. A cliché this may be, but in the world of motivation, being able to recognise and reward all those who have succeeded provides a more positive environment than one with lots of losers. Of course winners must be genuine, but the process can be helped along by the creative use of the reward structure.
6. Make frequent awards with special categories
Reward schemes can give everyone an equal opportunity to be successful, and acknowledgement of individual achievement raises self-esteem. Staff need to be kept switched on by a programme as they’ll quickly lose interest if they’re not reminded regularly about the benefits.
If the campaign is scheduled to last a year, why not shorten the pay-out horizon to monthly or quarterly intervals? Or make special interim awards? The award values need not be huge, but the impact of having frequent winners can be vast.
Ensure that awards are fulfilled as soon as they are announced. There is nothing more demotivational than not receiving a reward quickly.
7. Incorporate special reward categories
These could include awards for “Performance of the Month,” “Biggest Improvement,” “Best Performance by a New Starter,” for those with less than six months service in the role or “Best Comeback” for the experienced staff member whose performance has improved.
A ‘Biggest Improvement’ award, for example, can re-vitalise an employee to keep trying by giving them the opportunity to qualify for an award in the next month, despite early poor performance.
8. Encourage sustained effort
Nothing de-motivates the average employee more than seeing others streaking ahead from the start, leaving them with no chance of catching up. If everyone starts afresh each month, with all plusses and minuses cancelled out, everyone has another chance to compete on equal terms.
Cumulative performance should be used to reward over the whole campaign and it is here that the high flyers will show through.
9. Present awards publicly
The efforts and achievements of all employees who perform well should be publicly recognised at company meetings with personal presentations by a senior manager, as well as in any communications.
This is not only good for results but also for morale of both the individual and the team. Give employees a chance to seize the limelight for themselves; they will value the experience of being recognised by peers.
This does not have to mean lavish expense. A simple ceremony that demonstrates the importance of individuals’ contributions will repay the cost a hundred fold.
10. Evaluate the programme regularly
Ensure objectives are being met and obtain participant feedback on the structure, communication and management of the scheme, as well as the rewards being offered. This will enable the programme to be refined and enhanced to achieve continual performance.
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