Incentives that work

Incentive and Motivation finds out about some of the techniques spurring modern incentive programmes to success.

Whether you’re offering flexible working hours, points schemes, health and wellness programmes or learning opportunities, employee incentives are a crucial and integral part of the modern workplace.
In addition to short-term programmes that drive a specific goal or target a group of employees over a limited period of time, more and more companies are looking to incentivise their wider employee base all year round.

“There are a number of reasons for this,” says Steve Baker of Grass Roots, “But one of the biggest reasons is that, during challenging economic times, companies’ offers and prices start to equalise and you’re left with very little difference between competing businesses. Two of the things that can create standout are the level of service you provide and the people you employ.

“People would rather deal with people than a brand, so companies can encourage their employees provide excellent customer service and to excel by incentivising their discretionary behaviours. This means that their performance will be boosted and they will really go the extra mile to succeed. The fact is that most people like being recognised for their hard work.”

You only need to look at the recent Olympics to draw a strong comparison. There, athletes compete on a world stage to demonstrate their skills, and their prowess is recognised with medals. Indeed, over the summer months, there were plenty of people using the term ‘medalling’ as a verb, so distinct an action had it become.

This kind of achievement encourages others in turn, to compete to demonstrate similar, if not greater, prowess. Athletes hope to smash world records, while employees may seek to emulate or surpass colleagues in showing off their desired behaviours.

Peer-to-peer recognition is an excellent way to incentivise others to demonstrate the ‘right’ behaviours. Colleagues can become so bought into this kind of recognition that they can help to bed in corporate values and cultural changes.

Steve continues: “Peer-to-peer recognition is a big part of modern incentive programmes and we have implemented a number of programmes using Facebook-like social media tools to encourage this kind of recognition.

“We’ve found that colleagues are keen to get involved in a platform like this and quickly start talking about the good things that happen within their company. They enjoy recognising and nominating others for their good work and, because many of them use social media outside of work, it becomes second nature to them to use it as a workplace tool.”

Once a programme is established, the key to its success depends on monitoring its outputs, continue to communicate the programme and its benefits and gain participant feedback.

Steve says: “It’s so important to understand clearly what you’re trying to achieve and how the programme may need to evolve over time. The best way to do this is talk to your employees and get them to share their thoughts and concerns. Their feedback is invaluable.”

Social media isn’t the only way to bring incentives to life. Read the following case studies for more ideas.

Case study 1

Programme: Siemens Champions, for Siemens UK
Created by: P&MM Motivation
Target audience: All 12,000 Siemens UK office, manufacturing, field and home workers based across 140 locations.

Siemens wanted a UK-wide programme that would reinforce the reorganisation of its businesses and introduce its new corporate values: Responsible, Excellent and Innovative. ‘Champions’ gives all employees equal chances to participate by personally recognising peers who demonstrate the values through their interaction with colleagues and customers. Recognition for teams and/or individuals can be submitted online or through a Freepost card system and recognition is achieved via a number of different platforms, including E-Cards, Instant Rewards and Podium Awards. The nominator can add an image of the individual they are recognising and the images are converted to a congratulatory e-shot or printed and posted direct to the individual.

Instant Rewards are approved by managers before despatch. Podium Awards are awarded monthly, quarterly and annually. Award values are applied in points to employees’ online rewards accounts, giving them choice of over 500 rewards items, including high-street vouchers, merchandise items and experiences. Siemens Champions is now part of the company’s culture and Siemens has seen an uplift of 168% in recognitions from preceding recognition programmes. Almost 24,000 awards have been given out and the value of award given has increased by 50% each year.

Case study 2

Programme: ACT Reward Points, for The Automobile Association (AA)
Created by: Red Letter Days
Audience: AA contact centre employees

Working with an AA contact centre, Red Letter Days and The AA launched an incentive programme in April 2012 that works on a points basis and encourages its employees to work towards 100% attendance. Employees demonstrating good levels of attendance are awarded points, which can be accrued and redeemed against gifts, Red Letter Day Lifestyle vouchers or experiences. Individuals can manage and spend their points via a secure online platform.

Attendance has improved since the scheme launched and there are now plans to introduce it to other AA contact centres in the not-too-distant future. Typical feedback from AA employees already participating is as follows: “I have to say RLD points are coming in very useful. Some experience days and gifts are very tempting but I’m collecting points for an online voucher for PC World. Hopefully, by Christmas, I’ll have enough for a decent TV” and, “I am impressed with the idea to include RLD points as an incentive for the ACT department. The breadth of choice for gifts and experiences on the website is extensive and ensures that everyone’s interests are catered for. I will be spending my points on lifestyle vouchers to buy a new sound system, but will keep my eyes peeled for experiences and future days out.”

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