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Keep Your Staff Motivated with Incentive and Recognition Programs

September 4, 2018 • digitalmedia • Business AdviceComments Off on Keep Your Staff Motivated with Incentive and Recognition Programs

Employee incentives don’t always need to come in the form of cash—nor should they. Financial rewards can easily become an end in themselves, removing attention from the longer term rewards of a fulfilling vocation, and sometimes creating friction between co-workers.

The right employee incentive and recognition programs are more creative. They focus on the long game and know how to implement non-monetary rewards to encourage achievement and healthy competition, while not clouding the inherent value of good work and a positive environment.

Here’s how the best strategic incentive programs work.

Recognition Programs

They don’t replace good pay.

The first step in building a successful incentives program is to ensure that staff is already paid as generously as possible. When staff is earning what they deserve, incentive programs can do their job, and don’t simply serve as a needed addition to the pay package. In other words, not receiving a reward should not be a blow to an employee’s personal budget. Incentive and recognition programs can be a great opportunity to infuse energy, pride, and mutual appreciation into the workplace, rather than make up for something lacking.

They reinforce exceptional work.

Exceptional work deserves praise. Are you on the alert every day for where your staff shines? Rewarding with experiences, positive feedback, gifts, or small cash prizes rather than cash-only bonuses keeps the focus on the work performed, and the employees’ own internal motivation. This reinforces your staff’s native creativity and initiative, rather than driving them toward artificial goals. You can also tailor the reward to the kind of work done, or to the personality or preferences of the employee, to make sure that it’s personal and meaningful. The best incentive programs focus on recognizing the best work employees are already doing.

They publicly reward achievement.
Highlighting achievements, especially when they’re measurable and predictable, gives employees something to look forward to and builds regular times of celebration into your calendar. Hitting the five-, ten-, and twenty-year mark in your company, for example, deserves warm recognition from leadership and coworkers, and shows that your brand concretely values relationships and stability. Cash bonuses should be supplemented with a public show of appreciation, such as a dedicated plaque, a special toast, or a new uniform, so that clients and visitors can recognize your employees’ achievements, too.

They create a positive environment.

Well-crafted incentive and recognition programs encourage people to continue enjoying their jobs. By regularly building creative and genuine “thank yous” into your workplace, you are fostering an environment of gratitude and mutual encouragement. This is a worthy investment.

This works especially well when employees have a hand in giving incentives. Integrating employees’ efforts into your strategy adds the joy of giving appreciation to the joy of receiving it. Gestures do not have to be complex or expensive to get the message across. When they are consistent, something as simple as a card or gift certificate on an employee’s birthday or work anniversary builds team spirit and says to your staff, “You are more than your work. Still, you’re doing great work!” Giving staff a place where they can feel seen, appreciated, and known can do wonders for a workplace atmosphere.

They boost productivity.

People work harder when they know someone is watching, and especially when those watching are truly appreciative rather than merely critical. This is why an incentive is not simply a carrot instead of a stick. Rewards definitely work on a surface level, boosting mood and motivation in the short term. However, the promise of future rewards only goes so far. When employees can depend upon their work being valued, they want to continue performing at a high level for internal as well as external reasons. Incentives boost productivity because they remind your employees that someone is paying attention, that their daily efforts are regarded, and that good work will be rewarded.

They encourage longevity.

The right incentives, added to an already healthy work environment, can spark a personal, positive connection between employees and their company. They remind employees why they value their jobs, and why they work for you. Rewards operate holistically by reinforcing internal motivation with external rewards and encourage employees to stay where they are appreciated.

However, longevity is only a virtue in a healthy work environment. If your incentives function to make up for or distract from chronic employee dissatisfaction, they ring false and will not encourage either the productivity or the longevity that benefits an organization. However, when incentives provide a reward within a functional system, they help keep productivity high, for the long term.

They set precedent for creativity.

Great incentives are personal and meaningful, but they can also be creative. An incentive and recognition program allows your rewards to be dependable, ongoing, and team-oriented while experimenting with different rewards, surprising staff, and personalizing their incentives as needed. For example, an incentive strategy gives you space to take risks with rewards, providing experiences as well as gifts, such as opportunities to get away or relax. You might also try establishing a system of charitable contributions in employees’ names, further encouraging a culture of giving back. Finally, taking creative initiative also encourages the same from your staff.

Incentive and recognition programs give credit where credit is due, and create an atmosphere where excellent work can flourish. They can benefit any workplace, and add extra motivation to people in challenging careers. However, they don’t come out of thin air, and can’t happen last-minute. An incentive program that meets its needs is founded on strategic goals and careful customization.

At Fontis Solutions, we know what it takes to craft top tier recognition programs that truly connect to employees while fitting into your budget. Contact a consultant today to begin your conversation. Let us be your source for success.

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