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Recruitment 101: Employee Incentive Programs

August 25, 2022 0 Comments

Employee incentive programs require considerable time and effort to run but are ultimately a win-win for employer and employee. Here’s why.

Few would argue that people are an organisation’s most valuable asset – get the right people onboard, and an organisation is at least part way down the road to success.

However, once the team is in place, keeping them happy is what ultimately determines a company’s resilience and capacity to grow and be profitable. Remuneration and the benefits package plays some part in this but it’s not the be-all and end-all happiness determinant.

Cultivating a vibrant, healthy workplace culture is just as important, as is recognising employees as the essential human components of the business who perform better when they are treated well and feel they are seen as important individual contributors across the wider team.

While this can be achieved through offering flexible and out-of-the-box salary packages, it’s also true that humans are by nature task and incentive driven – while we do react to the ‘stick’ when ‘punished’ for performing a task poorly (and can learn through this), we more often are encouraged by ‘the carrot’ when we are rewarded for doing a task well.

Which is where employee incentives programs come in.

What is an employee incentive program?

The best employee incentive programs are designed to attract, engage and retain employees, and are as simple as they sound in that they are a scheme or plan that motivates an individual to change their workplace behaviour and, in doing so, perform to the best of their capacity, if not strive to be better.

Three main reasons to create an employee incentive program

The benefits that come with a well-designed employee incentive program are manifold, but three outcomes of a program stand out as being particularly beneficial to a business.

On a wider organisational level, incentive programs help create a positive company culture by encouraging employees to grow in their roles, while feeling both appreciated and recognised for doing so.

They also improve engagement between employees, with management and, if the role is customer focused, with the client, and an engaged employee is generally both more productive and happier!

Employee incentive programs also help attract great talent but, even more importantly, given that 50 percent of businesses struggle with retention – at potentially a great cost to the business – such programs go some way to ensuring the best people remain in the organisation.

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What makes a good employee incentive program?

What to do

While incentive programs can be ‘bought in’ from companies that specifically offer the service, creating an effective program from the ground up is also possible.

The critical aspects to consider when building your own program are that it should be:

  • Simple and easy to understand in terms of  purpose, targets/KPIs, processes and rewards
  • Equitable across everyone it applies to
  • Logical in the way the actions, KPIs and rewards relate to one another
  • Realistic and actionable so that employees are motivated to embrace it rather than demotivated because it feels impossible to see a positive outcome from efforts.

What not to do

Conversely, there are some pitfalls that even the most well-intentioned employee incentive programs fall into, the three main ones being:

  • Participants feeling the program wants more from them than it is promising in incentives
  • Resentment being created when lower performers feel unable to match top ones
  • In team-based programs, lower performers being passengers as naturally motivated top performers pull more of the team’s weight to ensure KPIs are met, and incentives gained.

Ideas for employee incentive programs

While employees will enjoy the improvement in morale and company culture that comes with a program, plus the positive feedback they will receive from management, tangible incentives are also necessary.

Monetary remuneration by way of bonuses is one of the more obvious and compelling rewards, so should always be considered as part of a program. However, it’s not a given that money is always the most motivating incentive for every employee.

More curated programs with a range of incentives show employees they are being considered as individuals with different needs. These are also more targeted in offering an employee something specific rather than cash, which might very easily end up being spent on paying the bills or mortgage, both useful and helpful but potentially less motivating because there is no tangible gain.

This is where organising discounts or vouchers to go towards experiences (entertainment, travel etc), goods or services is useful in being able to offer a varied range of incentives, ensuring the program will have the most impact by targeting a wider range of employee wants and needs.

And, pro tip: once the program is in place with incentives identified and advertised, regularly reviewing and updating both how the program works and the incentives it offers ensures it is working optimally and is the best fit for the current set of employees.

Gorilla Jobs Can Help

We love what we do at Gorilla Jobs, and while there are challenges, we are always ready to help you as a candidate or recruiting organisation to ensure the best talent ends up in the best jobs. Reach out to us today if you have any questions!