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Guidance on developing your incentive programme

The best incentive schemes are a combination of reward, recognition and real-time feedback.

  1. Reward is about the financial element – but encompasses more than just cash.

    Try to think of alternatives, for example many people will be incentivised by winning a half day holiday.
    If you have no budget at all then use, for example packets of Starbursts for ‘star performers’, or a packets of M&Ms for ‘Magnificent & Marvellous’ work.

    If you have a budget then brainstorm ideas.  Get input and ideas from the people who you are planning to incentivise (and their managers). 

  2. Recognition is the most powerful motivation force.  It is about staff knowing that they are doing a good job and feeling valued as a result.

    Take ComXo for example.  They use a simple ‘Thank You’ board, themed around Cadbury’s Heroes. 

    Anyone in the company can pin up a personal thank you to another member of staff.

    Every month a winner is drawn.

    All winners are displayed on the wall, and win a box of Cadbury’s Heroes.

    To make this more fun all agents have a super hero alias and all nominations are delivered under these aliases.

  3. Real-time feedback

    This provides information to individuals and teams so that they know how they are performing and what rewards are available if they raise their game.

    Often a simple company-wide email saying ‘well done’, ‘thank you’ or ‘congratulations’ to an individual or team is sufficient reward to significantly boost on-going performance.

10 steps to setting up an incentive programme

  1. Identify the scheme's objectives.

  2. Consult with staff representatives and relevant managers.

    This will help to:

    • Identify where to aim the incentives

      For example at your entire workforce, or at managers or at specific groups of employees.

    • To find out what incentives your staff value most.
    • To understand what training they need to achieve the target.

  3. Structure the programme
  4. Relate the scheme to the business' remuneration system.
    • Consider whether the incentive should be non-financial or financial.
    • Think about how the proposed incentive will relate to other cash benefits
    • Agree how much administration will be needed.
    • Examine the legal issues of staff incentives.

  5. Ensure that the planned scheme is competitive.

    Look at similar schemes within other businesses.

  6. Choose the awards.

  7. Launch/promote the programme to the staff.

  8. Run a pilot scheme and evaluate results.

  9. Compile a book of answers to staff FAQs/queries and brief these to supervisors.

  10. Regularly review your scheme and obtain feedback.
    • Make sure that you document, communicate and obtain feedback from staff on a regular basis.
    • Keep evaluating what is working, and what might need to be improved.

See the book ’How to Run Successful Incentives’