Using Incentives to Motivate Your Workforce
A company without incentives is a static enterprise that appeals only to robots, not people with feelings and dreams. Capitalism is built on the notion that if you work hard, you will be rewarded. A savvy business owner takes his employees' desire to achieve and—instead of crushing it—fuels it to allow that department or sales team to lift the company to new heights.
What are good criteria to judge against? Highly niche-specific, a sales team should obviously be judged by different criteria than a group of lab researchers or even support and management staff.
Some of the most common cross-department criteria by which incentives are allocated include:
- Sales performance
- Job accuracy
- Job safety (a big one)
- Leads acquired
- Documents processed
- Operations completed
- Process efficiency
When a suitable metric is determined, then software such as Salesforce can be used to quickly and easily monitor those metrics, determine the best performing parties—even with unusual analysis criteria—and then provide results accurate enough to dole out rewards fairly. Even across seemingly contradictory departments and fields, Salesforce accurately tracks general metrics such as growth, value of contributions, and other more obscure metrics to allow a marketing department to compete with sales for the incentive.
Excellent Incentives are Company Specific
While knowing to whom you are going to give the rewards is valuable, it is necessary to determine what your employees could possibly receive to peak their interest and make them feel like their hard work has paid off? Not every company is the same, look to what employees are lacking to see where to furnish incentives.
The obvious first two incentives are monetary and paid time off. These are also some of the most expensive for the company and usually are reserved for the highest achievers on a managerial or sales force, or are distributed evenly across a company that is showing stellar lateral performance. While this kind of incentive is great at riling up a storm on the sales floor or in the bullpen: if a company uses this too much, it could suffer huge financial loss after a while.
Other companies use their company resources to cleverly motivate their employees. Some of the common alternative incentives include:
- Company Parking Space: Sometimes a $5,000 bonus to a woman living in New York just isn't much of a leg up, but having access to a parking space on a daily basis could be a prize worth fighting for.
- Open Endorsement: Especially in temporary and contract positions, offering the best on a team an honorable mention on the company website or a direct endorsement from the company is worth standing out from the others, even after the bidding is over.
- Greater Degree of Autonomy: What's better than a small raise or lump sum incentive to an individual who truly cherishes their career? Give them a chance to do their job better. Take the highest earners, most creative marketers, fastest management staff, or other elite team and give them the autonomy to drive the company forward in their own way. Allow them to shape something according to their vision and apply their unique skills. The process might be rough at first, but eventually, the team will be proud to provide their skill and become a company's best asset.
Managing an Online Marketing Presence with Gusto
As a special note, for small to medium sized sales teams—especially those with heavy integration into the social media and digital sales worlds—a software called Constant Contact makes the entire process easier.
Constant Contact manages the feedback of customers online through polls and can monitor employee interaction with the web presence, as well as their overall success engaging the audience. Even some companies that utilize Salesforce or NetSuite use Constant Contact to better track their online-oriented employees to dole out incentives.
Top-Down Large-Scale Incentives
One of the most dangerous cancers that creeps over larger businesses is divisional or department apathy.
Department apathy occurs when a division of a company is so stacked with employees that it is hard to achieve individual recognition. Employees suffering from this will trek on through their day meeting their minimum requirements knowing that to work any harder wouldn't result in any accolade and that monetary awards are only given to an elite few whose work performance is in a tier above everyone theirs.
This disease is dangerous as it weakens the overall efficiency of a division. As more employees fall into apathy, more employees are brought in to eventually be lost to apathy as well.
The natural cure to this is to make every day at work count more and be more fulfilling.
With good analytics, this can easily be done by providing department-wide incentives. Taking into account the sales or workforce contribution of a division, adjusted to factor in team size for fairness, a company can easily track performance at any fork in a company's management structure and take control of apathy and wasted performance.
When a quarter’s results come in, the best performers could be enticed with a division wide monetary bonus or extra time off. If every division did well, a business owner could reward everyone with time off or shares in the company. The key to large incentives is to get creative, and reward fairly. In extreme cases, when one division performs abysmally at their sales or other quota, management can step in and impose discipline in whatever way they see fit.
One of the most popular software programs for implementing this highly effective employee motivation and retention strategy is the well-regarded NetSuite. NetSuite is popular also because as a company grows, so do the data and analytics tools available. While some software programs manage growth in a clumsy manner, NetSuite is designed for growth, making it suitable for both large and small databases as it utilizes sales data in a manner that can easily determine worthy parties of the incentives at any stage of growth.
Small Rewards Create a Major Impact
Large or small, incentives are necessary for employees to feel like their hard work and valuable contributions are both seen, and have consequences. When employees see the feedback system, they will try to play the game by working harder. Only through properly implementing incentives can a company expect to grow steadily and keep employees motivated.
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