Motivate with the right rewards

staff rewardsWhen designing an employee incentive programme to motivate the several generations of employees in the workplace it is important for HR professionals to choose the right reward structure and rewards that will motivate your employees.


Little and often

Rather than offering your staff a single grand, high-value reward at the end of you incentive programme, focus on regular, lower-value rewards. This approach to rewarding your employees will have a greater impact on productivity than large end of year incentives alone. In addition, rewarding little and often will keep up the momentum throughout the year.

Sending a card or even an email to say ‘thank you’ for a job well done mid-programme can be highly motivational, and it is a regular reminder that the incentive programme exists.


Achievable rewards

There are two elements to achievable rewards: achievable targets and who is eligible for the rewards.

When it comes to setting achievable targets they should meet the SMART criteria, but you don’t want to make them too easy. This means they should be challenging, achievable and individual. It is advisable to set smaller monthly goals as a stepping-stone to the overall target you can maintain the interest of your sales team, make annual targets appear more achievable, and motivate those who are not your top performers.

Awards need to be achievable to all, not just high performers and not just the frontline staff. There is more to be gained by motivating middle tier staff than those already performing to the best of their abilities. In addition, those who achieve the targets are often supported by others, such as the purchasing and customer service teams, to make those sales so make sure that you include them in your incentive programme and reward them for their efforts behind the scenes.


Appropriate rewards

Generation X EmployeeThere is no point wasting time on incentive programme rewards that target the wrong generation. If all five generations are represented in your workforce, then you need to find a reward or a range of rewards that appeals to them all.

It can be tricky to decide which rewards to offer your employees, but one option is to give your staff a choice by rewarding them with vouchers, gift cards and e-vouchers, for example. This is an excellent way to give an aspirational award that is tailored to each individual’s tastes. It’s also a good idea to talk to your staff to find out which rewards will motivate them; this can give you a starting point for which vouchers, gift cards and e-vouchers to select.

And remember, some motivating rewards, such as their manager doing their filing or the best car parking spot for a month, may incur no cost at all.


Cash is no longer king

Cash Ineffective MotivatorCash is not a long-term motivator; pay raises and cash bonuses may only work in the short-term, if they work at all. Numerous studies show that performance-driven non-cash rewards will have a greater impact on the motivation of your employees. This is because cash rewards disappear into the monthly salary and are often used on day-to-day bills, rather than to treat yourself with something special.

If cash rewards are used too often then there is also a danger that your employees will come to see them as part of their pay packet, so if they are lower than expected or not given at all, then they can demotivate employees rather than motivate them.

Finally, cash rewards don’t make an impact on colleagues and encourage them to achieve the same as the co-worker who has received an award. That is because people are uncomfortable discussing how much their bonus was, while they are happy to share that the latest gadget they’ve bought using their reward vouchers.


Want to find out more?

Read the next article in the series: It’s measuring that matters >>

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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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