What not to do when rewarding employees
Common mistakes can lead to incentive program disasters.
Even reward programs implemented with the best of intentions can fail miserably when common mistakes occur. The best cure for incentives-gone-wrong is preventive planning. Sidestepping just a few common errors can help your program become an unqualified success.
The “I-Know-Everything-I-Need-to-Know” Mistake
Assuming you know everything you need to know before designing your program is like jumping into deep water without a life jacket; you’re doomed before you start. Here are a few areas of knowledge you want to be sure you’ve explored:
- Employee input. If you’re rewarding employees it’s best to know what rewards are meaningful to them. Just because a reward sounds good to you does not mean it has emotional appeal to them.
- History. Nothing succeeds like success and nothing fails more miserably than something that has been tried and failed before. Find what has and has not worked before and structure your program accordingly.
- Reward program providers. If you don’t already have a partner who has deep experience in rewards programs, find one. Look for a company with good connections with name brand manufacturers and with a record of innovative, effective program design.
The “We-Don’t-Need-to-Measure-the-Results” Mistake
The idea behind a rewards program is to improve performance in a specific area. If you don’t set goals for that performance and measure both before and after the program, how will you know if it worked?
- Decide if you are measuring quality or quantity and develop a measuring tool that fits your goal. Whether it’s through output or behavior, make sure you and your employees understand how success will be judged.
- Measure results periodically throughout the program. If you’re not getting the results you want, maybe your program needs some revamping.
The “Here’s-Your-Reward-but-It’s-No-Big-Deal” Mistake
If you’re going to the trouble to develop a rewards program, make sure you put the proper emphasis on success.
- Communicate the reasons for the program and reiterate them throughout. Then announce the results of the program with emphasis on successful employees.
- Be sure to emphasize why rewards were given – what behaviors earned the rewards. Just announcing the winners does nothing to reinforce the purpose of the program; detailing how they won has a much longer lasting effect and promotes the continuing of the desired behaviors.
- Be sincere and laudatory to those who earn recognition both in private and publically. Take the time to thank the employee personally for the exceptional performance. Create an event to acknowledge the achievement and publicize his or her success in company newsletters, bulletin boards, press releases and others.
Incentive programs are wonderful devices for rewarding exceptional achievement. Just be sure the awards you offer are appealing, that everyone understands the purpose of the program and that you acknowledge positive results appropriately.