You’ve got a new incentive idea – and you are raring together. Before you get your incentive launch campaign ready or order one iota or goodies – it’s time to check how to align incentives with your business goals. It doesn’t matter what outcomes you want, if each action or effort isn’t carefully aligned to key business goals and your own strategy, then any rewards offered could fall flat.

It sounds basic – so just how do you align incentives with your business goals?

1. Incentives aren’t just for the elite performers – or for sales

Say incentives and you probably default into thinking ‘something the best people get for making big sales’ – but that’s not always the right goal to have. You’ll always have your star performers and your weaker, or developing individuals. It means that you can’t have one business goal ‘more sales’ and be done with it. Your bottom tier performers might need more training and development. Your elite performers may well benefit from high ticket incentives, and those middle tier performers no doubt need regular motivation, incentives and explanation of where they are going right – and where they are going wrong. Your incentive programme goals might be:

  • To improve company understanding of product x from X% to Y%
  • To increase the number of escalations in the business using the correct procedure from X to Y 
  • To see improvements in performance from our weakest colleagues (be specific in what this would be) 
  • To see our top performers complete X hours of coaching and mentoring 
  • To see X amount of employees move from a rank of X to X in the area of upselling/ customer care/ overall qualified sales

There are a wealth of different scenarios but by opening out what some great achievements would look like, you’re in witha better shot of proving the value of your reward and incentive programme.

     3. Be true to your own culture. 

We can all read about Google and Facebook and want to replicate their success. But it all depends on who’s on your team. Think about it this way – what would be a success for you – as a leader, a team who are unhealthy, tired and unhappy but smashing targets, or a team who are healthy, bright and engaged? There’s no point in running a full well-being strategy if you don’t believe it really adds any value.

If your culture is all about learning, development and thriving as a team, then solo incentives that pit your colleagues against each other will never sit quite right, even if your best buddy at company X is doing just that.

What about your own thoughts and feelings? There’s no point in running a full well-being strategy if you don’t believe it really adds any value and you secretly think it’s a waste of time.

You can change your culture through the right rewards, incentives and your management and leadership, but it takes time. Different people value different benefits and different companies have different goals. Be realistic and know yourself. It might sound great if you want ‘quality AND quantity’ – but if realistically, you are only going to be satisfied when there are big sales numbers, however, they are achieved, just say that. Having a prize in sight will help staff go the extra mile, and this is even

This comes down to your rewards as well. It’s true that the right prize is something sognificant to them, but that doesn’t have to mean significant value. just becuase your exec board think a trip to Vegas for a weeek would be ‘epic’ it doesn’t mean your team of working families or nearing retirement individuals will be just as enthused.

3.Be specific in how you reward

Incentives and rewards have to feel impartial, clear and achievable. That means when you launch your campaign for an incentive, whether that’s for channel marketing purposes or as an internal incentive, you need to explain exactly what the rules are. Does that mean a score, a value, an amount? Think about how you’re going to make it visible without demoralising the lower or middle tier performers.

4. Incentives aren’t a plaster

For our overseas readers, ‘a band-aid’. Incentives are nice but these extrinsic rewards aren’t everything. You can’t dangle the carrot of a hamper of goodies, a trip in a Ferrari or a day off work whilst money or health worries whip at an employees legs throughout the day. Balance is key, and any business has to be built on empathy, development of vital skills, responsibility and advancement.