RPI is at the forefront of recognition program development. They have developed their 7 Best Practice Standards ® to help you develop a great recognition program for your organization. Standard 5 is recognition training and Standard 7 is recognition change and flexibility. Both are important when creating and refining your program. Below are mistakes to avoid when implementing an incentive program.
Incentive programs are a great way to motivate you employees and boost morale. However, there are some things that can prevent your program from succeeding. Forbes contributors Bill Fotsch and John Case described asking a group of conference attendees if they felt their company’s incentive program was effective and only a few hands were raised. Fotsch and Case detailed what to avoid to have the most successful program.
1. Avoid isolating individuals as much as you can
Fotsch and Case explained that incentive programs have the potential to garner resentment among employees who may feel left out. They explained that giving a bonus to sales staff could make those in the customer service department feel unappreciated.
- Harvard Business Review stated that incentives have the capacity to make others feel punished if they do not receive a reward.
- Incentives within specific departments are great, but make the goals as specific to the department as you can.
2. Make sure employees are involved in creating the program
The article warns against creating a program without input from those who will participate. Fotsch and Case said that many incentive programs come from companies’ human resources departments. While well-intentioned, programs created by another department can fail to reflect the needs and culture of that team.
- When creating an incentive program, invite a few employees from the team you want to motivate to give their thoughts.
3. Do not let it disappear
Fotsch and Case warned against letting your program disappear. Too many programs are announced with excitement only to not be mentioned again within a month. If employees are not assured that the program is still happening, motivation will disappear.
- Add check-ins into your regular company newsletter or mention it at meetings to remind employees that the program is still going on and to keep them informed on its progress.
4. Make sure you actually have the budget to implement the program.
At the end of the program, everyone meets the goal and you need to hand out the rewards. It may be easy to plan a 6-month-long incentive program and assume that you will have the budget by the time you reach the end, but Fotsch and Case argued that this is where many plans fall through. Factor recognition and incentives into your budget so that there are fiscal barriers at the end of your program.
- When creating and budgeting for your program, assume that your whole team will hit their goal.
- Showing that incentive programs do provide benefits will set a precedent for future programs.
5. Make sure the program will not promote bad behavior.
We saw this with Wells Fargo in 2016 when employees received a benefit for each new account they opened. The incentive was so motivating that many employees engaged in unethical behavior to receive their rewards.
- Be there to support those in the program. Ask how they are doing and keep track of their progress.
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