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Guest post by Adrienne Erin

If your company is looking to reward and recognize hardworking employees, then you need to implement an incentive program. Although incentives such as bonuses and commissions are easy go-tos, especially in the world of sales, there are many other things companies can do for their employees that are both rewarding for the worker and lucrative for you. After all, incentives programs are a great way to motivate the top-of-the-line performance that goes right to your bottom line.

Employees with higher-than-average engagement bring in 27 percent higher profits, 50 percent more in sales and are 38 percent more productive than those with average investment, according to Incentive Federation Inc. Rewards from an incentive program are truly a two-way street.

If your company is new to the realm of incentive programs, there are many things to consider when putting one into place. Here are some ideas for exciting and truly motivating programs that your employees will look forward to participating in.

How to Put Your Program in Place

First and foremost, you need to determine what your program intends to do. Do you want to boost productivity, increase sales or improve customer service? Perhaps you’re even looking for a combination of the three. Once you nail that down, decide how you will measure and display those goals. Visibility and transparency will encourage workers try even harder to hit their targets.

The next step is to determine what prizes will be awarded. Surprisingly, money does not make a great incentive. Employees are more motivated by a prize than by cash, so make sure your prize is really sensational. Even if you can’t afford to give away a new Mustang or a trip to the Bahamas, make your incentive exciting, like a 4 day weekend (no PTO required) or a generous gift card to a great local restaurant.

Finally, choose a start date for your program and have a big kickoff to get things started. Have a companywide meeting, put up informational posters to promote your program and keep the program in the forefront of people’s minds with regular newsletters or email alerts. Make sure you keep promoting your program to keep the excitement going and challenge workers to continue striving for their goals.

Ideas for Incentives

Now that you know how to set up a successful program, here are some ideas you can implement that are especially gratifying for employees.

  • Perks: If your company has a low budget for a program, try offering rewards that cost little or no money. How about an extra day off work, early leave time on Fridays for a month or a casual-dress day?
  • Travel and Entertainment: Most everyone will appreciate a great dinner out, tickets to a play or a weekend away at a local bed-and-breakfast. How about tickets to a local sports event? Get creative and make the most of other businesses that are around you. Just make sure you provide options; not everyone will want to see a baseball game or see a specific play.
  • Merchandise: There are many reward catalogs that provide a myriad of choices for your workers, such as coolers, shirts, duffel bags and the like. You can come up with a nice selection of items and let employees pick from them if they reach certain targets.
  • Trophies: Certificates, plaques, pins and trophies that call attention to someone’s special work or achievements will never go out of style.
  • Gift Cards: Although money is not always a great motivator itself, gift cards can be a good incentive. Make sure you offer a wide variety so employees can pick the ones they want most.

Ideas to Implement

What should you reward your employees for? The most obvious answer is in generating sales, but there are so many other things workers can strive for. For example, how about rewarding employees for having a positive attitude or for helping co-workers with a problem? Employees can nominate others for going above and beyond the call of duty, which contributes to a positive working environment.

You can also tailor awards to your specific business. If your company is a publisher or book seller, offer rewards for employees who read a certain number of books. This can motivate your employees to be well-read and greater assets to your business. If you own a restaurant, offer rewards for new dishes your employees try. They can pass on their information and knowledge to customers, adding to sales.

All in all, offering an incentives program to your employees will motivate them to perform to their best ability and help them become more invested in your company. It’s good for them, and it’s good for you.

Adrienne Erin is a freelance writer who always enjoyed the incentives programs at her prior workplaces. Follow @adrienneerin on Twitter to see more of her work.

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photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

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