Sunday, April 3, 2011

Incentives Can Motivate Your Staff

“Life takes on meaning when you become motivated, set goals and charge after them in an unstoppable manner.” ~Les Brown

Motivating your workforce is tough. Out of the many strategies and solutions for keeping staff motivated, the most effective way is using incentives.

We were assisting a very progressive firm that had set up a great incentive system to reward its employees for their billable hours. The system had been in place for three years, and the staff loved it. However, the owner was now concerned that the incentive was no longer working.

When I asked what made him think so, he explained that although folks were working hard to earn their incentives, but it was all they were concerned with. When it came to helping another colleague, they were not motivated to do so because there was no direct benefit to them.

On the surface this incentive system appeared to be working, yet it had unintended consequences. We changed the system to take into account a combination of individual production, team production and company success. Individual production was weighted at 60 percent, and team production and company success were each worth 20 percent. There is no question in my mind that this new incentive system aligns the goals of the individual with those of the firm.

Since the staff liked the old system so much, the owner’s challenge is to get them to accept the new plan. His strategy is to show them how they can make more money on this new plan, while promoting a spirit of cooperation.

While monetary incentives are great, many employees may not be motivated by money, particularly Gen-Xers (staff born after 1980). This group is motivated more by time off rather than a direct monetary incentive. In response, some entrepreneurs are rewarding staff with an additional day off for every month they hit their goals. The key to a successful incentive system is finding the reward that will motivate your staff to be more productive.

While incentives vary depending upon the work force and the goals of the organization, there are several key elements to include. First, the more frequently you reward the incentive, the better. It is hard to wait a year before you know how successful you have been and whether you have earned your bonus.

Second, the incentive system should be continually monitored to ensure it is working effectively.

Third, the incentive must have meaning for the people receiving it. Giving staff money, when doing so is not particularly motivating, is not good business.

A fourth element essential to a successful incentive system is a plan for support employees, whose efforts do not directly affect production numbers. Incentives for these workers should be based on the team’s production and the firm’s success.

Finally, you will need to have employee buy-in for the plan. When introducing a new incentive or changing the existing system, it is important that you sell it to your staff by showing them what they will gain.

Now go out and make sure that you have an incentive system in place to motivate your staff to help achieve the firm’s goals.

You can do this.

1 comment:

  1. Good points. Will go over some of these points in our upcoming incentive meetings.