Pitfalls to avoid when creating an engaging reward programme | Incentive & Motivation

A great engagement and reward approach can truly drive staff engagement and productivity higher, but there could be a risk of not quite hitting the mark. People spend time trying to ensure their benefits programmes are effective, yet the risk is that it doesn’t hit the mark. Managers may be offering rewards that staff don’t really want, or even worse, are counterproductive and are actually dis-incentivising staff.

We spoke to David Walker at Personal Group about the common pitfalls to avoid when it comes to creating a truly effective engagement programme. Creating an engagement, benefits, communications and rewards programme need to be well thought out to ensure you keep your staff happy and engaged at work, so read on – and make sure you don’t fall into any of these traps!

Rewards as a distraction

If you give rewards before tough news, your staff will notice. Ice creams for all before announcing budget cuts or announcing new bonus schemes at the same time as imminent redundancies will not be well received. All it will achieve is annoyance and confusion amongst your workforce. When times are tough, sugar-coating things with benefits will not work and the likelihood is that your employees will end up being actively dis-engaged.

Recognition with little personalisation

Avoid using recognition programmes without real thought . Just handing out rewards to staff without any reasoning behind it devalues the reward and means that staff will not appreciate them- no matter how generous a manager may think it makes them look. It should be clear what behaviour is being rewarded so that it can inspire others to replicate it.

One size fits all

Today, there are more generations at work than ever before, so it is unlikely that you can please all of the people all of the time (to coin a phrase). The simple realisation that each member of staff is unique, and will value and appreciate different rewards in a different way is essential. Make sure that where possible, you can make an individual feel like the reward was just for them. Personalise cards with a handwritten message from the CEO, offer someone with a new puppy a day off to get their house ready, give a Starbucks card to the guy who walks in every morning with a triple shot latte.

A “too-quirky” approach

Introducing quirky benefits so you look like a fun employer can work but often doesn’t. There is a fine line. Offering staff who work late free beer and takeaways might make you look cool but doing it too often might also look like you are working against your own wellness policies. Bring your pet to work day is all the rage now, but does that alienate those with allergies who will spend the day sneezing? Think about how these benefits will be perceived by others. Think about the motivations for providing the reward, will they really be valued by your staff in the long term or does it just serve as a nice bit of PR for the company?

Only seeing the big things

When devising a rewards scheme you need to think about how to engage all staff. Enthusiastic managers may try and hog the limelight be rewarding their own team more often than the rest of their peers. And don’ think they are always just trying to be awkward, they will often feel that they are doing the best for their own people. In the moment recognition is one way to avoid this. Empower every person in your business to acknowledge, reward and thank any other individual in your organisation, in a way that is seen by everyone else. Sometimes a little “well done and thank you” can make all the difference in the world.


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