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How Incentive Schemes Can Boost Employee Motivation 

Published: Thursday 13th February 2020

In the first months of a new year, staff morale can be at its lowest, but one way employers can tackle this is by introducing an incentive scheme or reward programme to boost employee motivation and help employees feel rewarded for their efforts. There are many ways in which to do this, linking incentives to performance targets, but, much will depend on your business model and the type of organisation.  


What employee benefits would your workers like to see in incentive schemes? 

There are many types of rewards and employee benefits that can be offered as part of incentive schemes, whether in the form of a bonus, time off, work from home days, activity days or prizes, but for them to be effective, it’s vital that targets are clear and realistic. It’s important too to tie incentives in with what your employees actually want. It may be useful to carry out a survey to gauge how your employees would like to see the reward programme work. This has the added advantage of getting greater engagement from workers when it comes to rolling out the incentive scheme. 

For short term gains in productivity, monetary schemes tend to work best, but for the long term, ongoing performance, non-monetary schemes work best. Again, this depends on the type of business. If there are certain times of the year when the business is busier than others, monetary rewards for exceptional performance make more sense than offering extra days off workIn recent years, there has been a shift away from monetary schemes towards long term engagement strategies that foster a sense of achievement and unity among the staff.  

group of young multiethnic diverse people gesture hand high five, laughing and smiling together in brainstorm meeting at office. Casual business with startup teamwork community celebration concept.

Find the right reward programme for your incentive schemes

Certain types of rewards work better than others when it comes to specific groups of employees. Gift cards, for example, are good for general staff in similar rolesWorkers tend to remember what they spent it on, compared to a bonus paid directly with salary, which is more likely to disappear into the household bills budgetFor senior roles, especially ‘hard-to-hire’ positionsshare schemes work well. As these accumulate over time, they can help with staff retention. 

In some organisations, workers with families will be looking for employee benefits that offer a good work-life balance. Here, flexible hours or the opportunity to work from home occasionally can be effective incentivesLikewise, the latest tech fad, such as phone, or gadget can be a big incentive for businesses with a young worker demographic.  

Employee Benefits Concept. The meeting at the white office table

Asda addresses a wide range of employee demographics through a recognition scheme for customer service known as Asda Stars. Here, an employee can build up Star points by meeting specific goals. These can then be redeemed on a wide range of rewards, appealing to different demographics.  

Benefits and downsides 

Look out for downsides. Team incentives can create a strong team ethic, but they won’t work in every organisation. Since no single individual is responsible for winning the incentive they can be less effective in big teams. 

Happy businessman looking at camera with satisfaction at office

In the case of share schemes, if the company’s share value falls, then so too will its effectiveness in boosting employee motivation. And while competition between staff can be a healthy thing, some workers may feel that they’re at the risk of being fired if they don’t hit incentive targets, leading to higher levels of stress in the workplace. 

Incentives do work when well planned, but the downsides highlight the importance of tailoring your incentive scheme to the needs of your business model and the needs of your staff. 

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