One of the most effective ways managers can encourage good, long-term employee behavior is through the use of incentives. Giving employees a tangible reason to improve, whether that reason be monetary or otherwise, serves as the lasting fuel for customer experience improvement, helping to drive innovation around improving customer experience and helping to sustain momentum over time. However, incentives need to feel relevant and important to employees. Hearing them express these thoughts and giving them a clear roadmap to win their incentives are important pieces of the puzzle. Similarly, these incentives need to align with the goals of the company as a whole and create a sense of camaraderie among employees.
Before mangers start prescribing rewards for good behavior, they should listen and try to understand their staff’s motivations for work on an individual level. Different employees likely want different things, whether it be promotions, greater shared responsibility, a sense of control over their day-to-day at work, or even simple recognition of the work they do. A great place to start when considering incentivizing employees is to hear them out and truly listen to what they want, and let their feedback be a guiding force.
Bring Clarity Around Desired Performance
Employees should know exactly what they need to do to get incentives. Too often, financial incentives or other opportunities are vague ideas without a specific cause and effect laid out for employees. Generally, this is still somewhat motivating: Employees tend to work hard even if they don’t know exactly how it will be reciprocated. However, when they have a clearly defined set of goals, whether they be performance-based around revenue or financially based, the motivation factor goes through the roof and they have something tangible to chase.
Align Financial Rewards with Financial Goals
An easy trap for managers to fall into is providing financial incentives for work that, even if positive, doesn’t align closely with the finances of the company. Ultimately, financial incentives should be a small portion of the dollar value they’re incentivizing. In other words, an incentive should be a reward for a specific, sustained activity, which already made the company more money than the incentive itself. Otherwise, managers run the risk of focusing too much on positive (but non-essential) behavior and stretching their company’s finances despite monetary growth.
Create Shared Goals
Individual incentives, especially of the monetary variety, are highly motivating. However, one of the joys of focusing on shared goals in a company is the electric enthusiasm it can create within an office environment. When co-workers have shared goals and shared incentives, their collaboration and collective hustle often has an infectious effect, spreading from one motivated individual to another and creating a sense of shared destiny. Fortunately, monetary incentives, even when distributed on a individual level, can still be transparent (based on salary) and formatted in a way to create this shared-goal experience within an office.
Look for Non-Traditional Incentives
While monetary incentives are the first that often come to mind, managers shouldn’t underrate the value of other types of incentives. As an example, good employee behaviors can often reduce stress in the workplace by resolving problems before they even begin. This may seem like a soft incentive, but for employees under stress, motivators like that can be hugely impactful. Managers should always think outside the box and make the effort to learn more about how they can make their employees’ lives better through rewarding good behavior.