In terms of boosting employee engagement, increasing workplace motivation, acknowledging appreciation for good work and driving your team toward its goals, incentive programs are important tools worth trying. Companies in diverse industries are using them to promote greater productivity and results. To take your business to the next level, implement the kind of program that can change the way your company runs.

[Image credit: Bloomberg]
[Image credit: Bloomberg]

To make your incentive program as effective and useful as possible, check out these six tips. In doing so, you’ll be able to think carefully and strategically about your incentives so you can use them to get employees on the same page with your team and everyone working toward the same goals.

What to consider when creating a new incentive program

Choosing the right incentive program for your employees can be challenging. You want to offer incentives your employees will love but are sustainable. Too many incentive programs might miss the mark and provide little encouragement to employees to perform, or are too difficult for the company to implement and maintain over the long term.

What incentive programs produce the best results and how? What strategies are important to keep in mind? What rewards will employees appreciate best? To help answer these questions, here is a list of things to consider when creating a new incentive program for your employees:

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Keep it simple

Make earning rewards attainable for your workers by creating specific, tangible goals for them to reach. Example goals include increasing sales by a certain percentage, improving customer service rankings by a certain amount or meeting specific project deadlines. While you can modify the goals over time as your company’s needs change, always try to keep the goals simple and memorable to encourage participation.

Align incentives with your objectives

While you want to keep your incentive system simple, you also want the goals you’re emphasizing to align with your goals as a business. It doesn’t make sense to motivate employees to produce the maximum number of new proposals, for example, when quality is your goal. You might just end up with a huge number of proposals you can’t use. Think about what your company needs to accomplish and find ways to use your incentive program to move employees toward that end.

See also: Top 10 employee incentives

Reward work consistently

Rather than running contests that reward only the top two or three performers, look for incentive programs that reward all the employees who produce good work. Make it so that when employees meet certain metrics, they qualify for incentives, regardless of how many other employees do, too. This type of program treats all employees as equal and gives everyone an incentive to work hard.

Reward work frequently

Rewarding your employees once a year is good, but rewarding them once a month — or even every pay cycle — is better. Frequent incentives mean frequent effort to earn them. To keep your workers motivated throughout the year, keep offering them opportunities to earn rewards that they’ll enjoy.

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Offer various reward options

One of the most common mistakes with incentive programs is trying to use the same incentive for all people. If the offered reward doesn’t appeal to a certain person, he might not be motivated to earn it. While some workers might love gas gift cards, others would rather get a restaurant or shopping gift card. That’s why it’s important to look for an incentive program that provides multiple options for participants to choose from — so you can accommodate multiple interests and tastes. That’s also why gift cards are such a great choice, giving usable rewards to everyone.

Promote the program

An incentive program is useless if your workers don’t know about it. Get people excited by holding a kickoff meeting, making special announcements, using emails to communicate about goals, or putting up posters. The more you can generate buzz about the potential rewards, the better your program will work.

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