How to make sure employee incentive programmes work


What are the benefits of employee incentive programmes?

The psychology of employee incentive programmes

Mistakes to avoid when choosing employee incentives

How to maximise the success of your employee incentive programme

Choose the right employee incentive programme for your business


How to make sure employee incentive programmes work

Does your workforce go the extra mile on a regular basis? If not, it might be because you’re not incentivising great performance.

But how do you do this effectively?

A decent selection of office snacks, ergonomic chairs and a competitive pay packet are all well and good, but it’s not enough to drive the maximum return on investment. To do so, you need to implement employee incentive programmes that work.

What are the benefits of employee incentive programmes?

There are a number of benefits to implementing incentive programmes for employees. Let’s take a look at three of the most important.

1. Employees are more engaged

Employee recognition and incentives are one of the key drivers of employee engagement.

Not bothered about engaging your employees? You should be.

2. Talent retention is improved

Employee incentive rewards programmes help your organisation retain its best people.

Employee incentive programmes deliver 31% lower voluntary staff churn than in companies that haven’t implemented them, while almost two thirds of employees ‘always’ or ‘usually’ recognised by their employer are ‘very unlikely’ to leave within six months.

3. Employee incentives improve business outcomes

Organisations with employee incentive programmes enjoy much stronger business outcomes. In fact, a Deloitte study found that rewarding employees makes it as much as 12x more likely.

The psychology of employee incentive programmes

We all love to be rewarded for a job well done, but why?

It’s all thanks to dopamine, a neurotransmitter that stimulates the parts of the brain responsible for processing rewards. This creates positive emotions, including satisfaction, but it does something else very important in the context of incentivising great performance at work: it helps us to learn.

Evolutionary biologists suggest this was really important for our survival. For example, if you receive a hit of dopamine after a successful hunt, you’ll want to go out and do it again.

Rewarding employees provides that surge of dopamine that encourages them to repeat that behaviour

Mistakes to avoid when choosing employee incentives

There might be a number of great benefits on offer for businesses looking to implement programmes for employees, but you need to ensure you avoid these three common mistakes if you want a strong return on investment.

1. Not asking your employees for feedback on incentive programmes

Your workforce is twice as likely to be actively disengaged if they feel as though they’re being ignored by management.

Your incentive programme will be all about your employees, so you need to make sure you engage them in the process of implementing it, and secure regular feedback on how the programme is working and whether it’s seen as valuable.

Fail to put in place an incentive programme that’s valued by your workforce and it’s not going to do the job of motivating them.

Ignoring your people also leads to disengagement more generally, with workers twice as likely to be actively disengaged when they feel ignored by management.

2. Not being transparent

You’ve identified the incentives your employees will value and done the hard work of putting it into action—but the job’s not done. You need to clearly and enthusiastically communicate the new programme with your workforce.

Make sure the process for rewarding your employees is clear so they not only understand what they need to do in order to earn those rewards, but also know that the awarding has been done fairly.

3. One-size-fits-all rewards

No two employees work in the same way, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to rewards and incentives either.

For example, a celebratory night out might be some employees’ idea of fun, but the worst nightmare for some others. 

Again, this comes down to speaking to your employees and getting their feedback and thoughts on your incentives programme.

How to maximise the success of your employee incentive programme

Taking these five steps will help you to maximise the success of your employee incentive programme.

1. Define your objectives

In order to make sure your incentive programme is effective you need to know what you’re trying to achieve.

Employee incentives can help to reduce staff churn, boost talent acquisition and increase productivity, but you need to put clear goals in place to help drive the recognition strategy forward.

2. Build your business case

You’ll need buy-in from senior stakeholders in order to secure the budget necessary to implement your incentive programme. To do so, you need a strong business case.

You’ll need to go armed with all the stats on how incentivising employees will help drive better business outcomes

3. Clearly communicate to your employees

Once the incentives programme is implemented, you need to make sure all of your employees understand what’s on offer and how they can take advantage of the new programme.

Ensure line managers are regularly referring back to the incentives programme during team meetings and one-to-ones, while tying it to long-term individual objectives and personal development plans.

4. Provide a broad range of incentives

No single incentive or reward will appeal to everyone, so you need to ensure you provide access to a wide range of benefits.

Make sure staff are involved in the process of devising your incentives strategy and get regular feedback on what’s valued and what’s not. 

Evouchers, gift cards and prepaid recognition cards are some of the most popular incentives because they empower the employee to spend their rewards wherever suits them.

5. Regularly measure and evaluate

Incentive programmes are great for employees, but they also need to provide ROI for the organisation, especially if you want senior management to continue supporting it.

Keep track of the key metrics you’re looking to improve and frequently report back on the impacts the programme is having on things like retention, talent acquisition, productivity and profitability.

Choose the right employee incentive programme for your business

For your organisation to see the benefits of an employee incentive programme you need to choose the right programme—and you won’t do so without working with an experienced vendor.

Here at Sodexo Engage we have over 60 years of experience in providing solutions that incentivise exceptional performance. We take a consultative approach, working with you to identify the incentives that suit your organisation, keeping your team’s attention on targets, no matter the size of the goal, and keep everyone pulling in the same direction.

We’ll also ensure you’re able to prove that all-important ROI, with industry-leading intelligence that will help you track targets, sales performance and improve your incentive programme over time.

Ready to find out more about what makes the Sodexo Engage incentives solution more than just a platform?

Get in touch with our expert team today and discover how we’ll deliver a complete incentives strategy that tackles existing challenges and empowers you to adapt for the future too.




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