Rewards & Recognition

Employee Incentives: Consistency & Constant Communication Is Crucial

Photo illustration by istockphoto.com

With all of the political messages being broadcast in the media during this presidential election season, it’s easy to see why delivering a clear and constant message is vitally important to proving your business case.

More importantly, it’s a great demonstration of how not having a clear and constant message can work against you, despite your best intentions.

Many companies have fallen into a “set-it-and-forget-it” attitude when it comes to their incentives program. It could stem from lack of human resources to see it through, or perhaps a corporate culture that justifies a down economy as a reason to cut back on rewards.

You need more than a once-a-year contest

More often than not, it’s just a simple case of managers believing that it only takes a one-time or once-a-year sales contest or other incentives program to show employees that they care. And worse, they believe that it’s enough to boost morale.

Studies have shown that this is not the case.

Yes, it’s true that during the time of the sales contest or incentives program there is often an initial boost in productivity. This usually lasts until the program is over and the awards have been handed out, at which time productivity drops to the same level it was before the program was started, and in some instances, goes below the normal level because of the perception that the contest gave them the sales they needed to be profitable. This has led many experts to declare that incentives programs just don’t work.

That conclusion, however, is not really accurate. What doesn’t work is doing just one sales incentives program and then ignoring everyone else in the company, or, running a one-time employee recognition ceremony and then forgetting about them the rest of the year. If an incentives program creates an initial burst of productivity, doesn’t that indicate that creating continuous and varied incentives programs would keep that level high?

Keeping morale high requires a constant message

Of course, that’s easier said than done. Consistency and communication are key, and both take a lot of bandwidth to achieve.

On top of that, having the right resources can be a challenge. Even if you can keep the program going, can you make sure it’s varied enough that everyone has a chance to participate, not just the top sales people? Do you have the right person to make sure that participants are informed about the program throughout the year, and who can send continuous updates to keep the interest high?

Keeping morale high is not something you do once or even twice a year. To keep morale high, and to keep employees engaged and productive, requires a consistent message, and that takes a process and dedication that never actually has an end date.

Only by keeping the programs running, working and rewarding can they truly have a consistent effect on employees and only then are incentives doing what they are designed to do.

Jennifer Vecchi is the Manager of Individual Incentives and Recognition Programs at Atlas Travel in Milford, MA, where she is responsible for supporting her client’s recognition programs and sales contests.