Are incentives EVIL? | Incentive & Motivation

“‘Incentives are EVIL’ – this may sound like an extreme view, but read on and you may be surprised…

Incentive schemes have been known to be divisive, provoking opposing views that generally take three distinct forms. There are those who view them positively and believe in the benefits, those who are ambivalent, perhaps even disinterested, and, finally, those who consider incentives to be an unnecessary, time-consuming, admin-generating evil. Those in the latter category will generally state the view that employees shouldn’t be rewarded for simply doing their jobs. Phrases such as ‘what are they paid for?’, ‘Why give them more?’, ‘What’s wrong with commission?’ and so on are oft-heard among them.

A great deal of research is readily available to prove that incentives and rewards are actually more effective at increasing productivity than commission is. To put it simply, commission is perceived as a salary extension, whereas incentives are viewed as a bonus, as recognition for going the extra mile. Indeed, the fact that commission is so often detailed in job ads presents it upfront as a part of the standard package and what a candidate should get for doing their job. Conversely, incentives exist to reward over-achievement and, as such, they drive over-achievement!

Badly executed incentive schemes, however, do not have a positive impact. In fact they could create negative feedback and contribute to the evil image. Get it right, though, and you could see significant benefits throughout your business, even directly impacting your bottom line. Incentive schemes need to be strategically embraced and driven from the top to deliver. If the right approach is adopted and correctly implemented then the impact can be felt throughout the business. Love them or loathe them, incentives now play a huge role in today’s increasingly competitive business culture and, used well, they will promote business growth and attract and retain the best employees.

Commission is basically cold, hard cash, while ‘incentive’ and ‘recognition’ are emotive words that drive an emotional response. This goes some way to explain the diverse reactions described earlier. Directly inducing feelings of passion, accomplishment and satisfaction, incentives and recognition can be great motivational tools if utilised correctly. It is perhaps the historic poor use of these business tools that has generated some negative feeling. Incentive schemes have been around for years, but only in the past three or four years have online schemes enabled a real shift into genuine business benefits.

Most negative feelings towards rewards and incentive schemes are likely to date back to early, experimental initiatives that were finding their place. Today, viewing incentives in a negative light is outdated. The drivers of the ‘evil’ image that once frightened off senior management, such as increased administration, high costs and complex arrangements, are no longer part of the incentives world, particularly now that online schemes are available.

The next business generation will be the Internet generation; quite simply it is how people communicate now. If you want to reach staff, and you want to reach them fast, the Internet is your quickest and most direct route. Ten years ago social media hardly featured. Now Facebook has 995 million users and Twitter sees over one billion tweets every three days. Four million Youtube views take place every day and Amazon has 75 million unique visitors every month. It’s no wonder that businesses are embracing the online culture in every way they can, and the most switched on businesses are turning to online incentive platforms. It’s clear that their ease of use, affordability and quick impact are really taking the perceived evil out of incentives.

At Corporate Rewards, we recognise that this is how the world communicates now. In fact it’s what drove us to develop our own bespoke, easy-to-manage online platform. It’s the new-and-improved way to help businesses improve performance through genuinely easy-to-manage incentive and recognition schemes.

By managing these schemes online you can actively reduce admin through things like integrated reporting tools and dashboard reporting, which also provide the added bonus of management information at your fingertips. Performance can be easily tracked with target trackers, and rewards are facilitated quickly by tools such as an online catalogue, e-vouchers, or prepaid cards, which keep both employer and employee happy. Not to mention a reduction in costs and no drain on resource; two more positive by-products of Internet delivery. Only an online system could deliver these benefits so quickly and efficiently without complex processes required on the ground.

It’s easy to see why businesses are increasingly adopting online as their preferred method for incentive delivery and management. It is essentially a ‘good’ approach, wiping the floor with the ‘evil’ of old. That being said, I still like to incorporate a hint of the dark side and sometimes there’s no harm in viewing incentives as evil, as long as you know what it really means. Incentives and rewards should be Engaging, add Value, Increase revenue and provide Longevity in relationships. So I say that, used correctly, incentives are a necessary evil that delivers pounds to your bottom line!”

Post author: Corporate Rewards