How to create incentive programs that motivate and engage

Engagement Vs MotivationWith thousands of organisations using incentive programs, it’s no wonder that there are so many articles, white papers and discussions about creating incentives that deliver revenue-related results. But are organisations missing an opportunity by only focusing on sales targets and revenue-related results? I certainly think so.

Traditional incentive programs still have a part to play, but should be deployed alongside a new focus on recognising employees’ for broader outcomes: next generation incentives drive long-term, sustainable behaviour change that supports the organisation’s business goals.
Download WhitepaperWant to know how to set up a next generation sales incentive scheme?

Planning your incentive program

In reality this means that incentive programs need thoughtful and careful planning and implementation. It needs to be more than a tick box exercise with a ‘carrot and stick’ approach.

In order to move beyond a simple incentive reward scheme, you need to take the time to truly understand what the business needs to achieve, which might include:

  • Changing the daily behaviours of staff
  • Educating employees on new products/services
  • Communicating brand values and encouraging employees to ‘live them’
  • Sourcing the right product/service for your customer (moving away from a ‘hard sell’ to a ‘consultative sell’)
  • Identifying opportunities to cross sell other products / services
  • Building long standing relationships with your customers

Once you understand your organisation’s goals and objectives then you can start to plan how your incentive program will help you deliver them. For example, employees could earn points for completing an online training course on a new product, or they could be rewarded for high customer satisfaction scores.


Get managers involved

Development should involve team managers rather than being just another HR initiative. Otherwise the program will not address the specific challenges faced by the managers and individual employees.

Structured sales incentivesLine managers have an important role to play in making incentives meaningful. By being involved in the planning and implementation of the incentive scheme Managers can motivate, reward and recognise individuals more meaningfully.



Top tips

Ideas for developing a next generation incentive scheme that delivers your organisation’s objectives:


  • Replace league tables with wider web-based performance hubs
    Widen your measures beyond sales, across service, to training and recognising behaviours. Be creative with graphics and bring the information to life. This might represent sales percentages as steps towards enticing images of rewards, for example.
  • Give people a reason to visit your incentive portal
    Apart from checking their league position, you need to give people a reason to keep visiting your incentive portal, as this will keep them engaged and encouraged to continue to strive to reach their targets. Ideas for engaging content could include educational content around products and services, or learning from colleagues via opinion articles and videos.
  • Include a mix of individual and team targets/incentives in your scheme
    Rather than rewarding a few high flyers, broaden your incentive program to make sure it reaches more staff more often.
  • Different incentives may engage and motivate different groups of staff
    Demographics are important so it is critical to understand what motivates your employees. Where you can, you should segment your employees and communicate to these groups rather than giving the same rewards and communicating the same messages to all.
  • Equip managers with data in a visual report
    Ensure that your managers can understand and act on incentive scheme data. They will be able to personalise the incentive program for their individual team members to motivate and engage them even further.
  • Analyse the data from past incentive programs
    By doing so you can review the evolution of your performance incentives. Your existing provider agency should be able to help you with this, as analytics are key to making improvements.

Download WhitepaperWant to know how to set up a next generation sales incentive scheme?

John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.
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