Incentives Program Overload: Knowing When to Ask For Help is the Key

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May 23, 2011

An effective employee incentives and rewards program can work wonders. The trick is creating a program that works and then managing it properly.

It seems simple, when companies first start talking about doing it, to set up a bunch of rewards, set goals, and encourage employees to reach them. It never quite works out that way, however.

Programs can become stale as employees get caught up in their day-to-day activities. Over time, the rewards probably seem less and less interesting and not quite as motivating. The program becomes poorly administrated and then forgotten, and whatever hope management once had for it is gone. Then, when the tough times come, one of the first things to go is the incentives and rewards program.That is a mistake. The time when cost-cutting and employee downsizing is taking place is when you need an effective rewards program to keep valuable employees happy. Just when you need those employees the most, they might just jump ship.

Want to be effective? Maybe you need some assistance

Companies often feel that they have to manage their programs internally. They calculate that managing a rewards and incentives program can fit into the day-to-day duties of Human Resources, or passed off to an administrative assistant. They lose sight of the fact that, to run a program effectively, you need to communicate, monitor and fulfill the rewards program. They forget that there are people out there who can help.

If you really want an effective program, you need to know when to seek assistance.

That seems counter-intuitive. You might be thinking, “you mean to tell me that when things are the tightest, I should be thinking about bringing in another company to help me manage this incentives program?”

The simplest answer is yes. Once you stop and think about all of the elements that go into managing a program, the answer is not quite as left-field as you might think.

How an effective program should run

Let’s take a look at how an effective program should run:

  • It should be analyzed and well-planned before it ever rolls out.
  • The rewards and incentives should be carefully chosen to provide maximum incentive as employees may not want to be handed a catalog or an impersonal check.
  • Once the right incentives are chosen, the program should be rolled out effectively with exciting announcements and a company-wide meeting, if possible.
  • Then, to make sure the employees remain excited about the program, regular communications, using a variety of methods, should be sent to remind them where they stand and to keep them engaged.
  • Once the employees reach their goals, someone has to fulfill all of those awards packages.

And that’s just scratching the surface.

There has to be someone who can answer the employees’ questions once the program goes into effect. They may want to know about the rewards, what will happen if they cannot cash in their award right away, or what if they change their mind about the award chosen? For someone to manage this in-house, it could end up taking up a major portion of their workload. You need someone with artistic skill, writing talent and the ability to be an effective marketer, public relations person and cheerleader.

The real ROI on a rewards programs

At this point you may be wondering if having an incentives or rewards program is worth it at all. Where is the return on the investment?

One of the most common reasons why an employee leaves a company is because they feel their work is not valued or they feel unappreciated. Ask yourself, how much would it cost to have to go out and find a new employee, train them, and then hope that they end up being as effective as the employee who went elsewhere? What is a valuable employee worth?

When you think in those terms, finding help from a company that manages incentive programs full-time makes sense. When you look at the beleaguered administrative assistant or HR manager who is trying to keep the program moving along and compare it to the employee retention, are you losing or winning? How much more effective might the entire program be running if you have someone whose full-time job it is to manage these programs?

A company specializing in managing incentives can breathe new life into a stale program. They can add pizzazz to a dull program. They can make sure the communications come out in a timely manner. They are in-the-know with the latest trends in reward fulfillment. They can make sure employees get answers to their questions. They can also ensure employees get their rewards in a timely and effective manner.

Running an effective rewards and incentives program is important, and good managers know that. But the headache of administrating them can be intimidating to the best of them.

Knowing when to ask for help is key and can ensure your incentives and rewards program is doing what you need it to be doing. Your employees will appreciate it.