Today, on LinkedIn, I ran across a guy who was looking to start a performance based incentive program. He is in the preliminary stages and is gathering information on how to start a program. From his discussion heading, I fear he is feeling overwhelmed: “So I have been tasked with developing a Performance based Incentive Plan...and am LOST!” He reminded me of one of our clients who has initiated their program but failed to get it off the ground. I cannot imagine being an employee of a company, knowing there was an employee incentive program coming, but not seeing any results. As an employee, I would be disappointed in my managers or supervisors not getting their act together.
I won’t lie; an incentive program is not an easy undertaking. I have great respect for my clients for taking on this task on top of their daily responsibilities. But as an account manager, I am here to help you! At Awards Network we want you to use our resources. We have a wealth of knowledge from working with so many different companies; we have probably run a program like yours before.
So as your potential future account manager I have some words of wisdom for you. First, stop kidding yourself that cash is a suitable reward for employees. We have found plenty of research why you should not use cash to incentivize your employees. Second, now that you will be using name-brand merchandise to reward your employees, let’s get them excited about your new program! How are you going to communicate the program to your employees? Are they savvy e-mail/ computer people? Would they prefer printed materials?
The next, and in my opinion most important step, is to establish the program goals and ways to earn points. For some reason this is the biggest hang-up for clients. After months of research, clients tend to loose sight of the big picture: What are you trying to accomplish? What set you on the path to an employee incentive program in the first place? Our friend from LinkedIn was trying to boost performance. Think about your overall goal and we can help you tailor a program around your theme. You will find it is easy to reward employees once the program gets started. After rewarding employees points for going above and beyond (boosting performance), you can reward them for anniversaries (length of service, to boost employee retention) etc. It is a spiral effect that we will assist you with so you can stay in your budget.
I have two pieces of advice for you on budgets: 1) Have a budget 2) Talk to upper management about the budget and get it approved before the program starts. I have seen way too many programs delayed because proper approval was not obtained. With your budget approved and mode of communication ironed out, we are ready to begin. The hard part is over; it is very easy from here on in. Check out our incentive program checklist (a downloadable PDF) to help you stay on track.
Lastly, but most importantly, don’t lose sight of your goal whether that is boosted performance, enhanced employee engagement or employee retention. The end result is guaranteed to be happy employees.