When it comes to motivating your employees, their salaries and fringe benefits should do it, right? Well, not always. Sometimes employees need to work toward reaching a specific goal or complete a particular project and rewarded accordingly. This becomes even more critical if you make known the importance of getting the “Jones project” done by noon on a summer Friday or ask your employees to close more sales by the end of the month. Incentives should be offered and can be varied to meet the need of the moment.
Lunch on You
So, you asked your team to finish a project ahead of schedule and everyone complied. You are not a cash-rich business, but you can reach into your pocket by rewarding everyone with lunch on you.
Whether you take your team out to a fancy restaurant or bring lunch in, you’re demonstrating to your people that you value their extra effort. Why not let your employees choose where and how they eat, promising to pick up the tab?
Your client is ecstatic that your team finished her project ahead of schedule. She announces that she will use your services again and makes plans with you to take on her next project.
Additional work is like money in the bank and although you don’t have the money on hand just yet, this can be a good time to instantly recognize your employees with bonus bucks. You might slip some cash or a gift certificate in with their paychecks or hand out envelopes as they leave for the day. You could make this a regular practice too whereby employees track their own progress toward a certain threshold or benchmark.
Cash incentives isn’t always king. For some employees, time off is what matters to them the most. In the example of the team that got their work done by noon, you may find that some employees simply prefer to leave early to enjoy the rest of their day.
An early leave may please a mother who would enjoy time to herself for a few hours before her children arrive home for the day. For other employees, they may want to “bank” that time and take an early release before a holiday weekend or come in late after the same.
If allowing people to leave early or bringing lunch in just does not work with your business model, you can employ an option that is similar to bonus bucks. And that would be to present a physical prize to your employees, one of their own choosing.
Work with a company that sells employee gift items and develop a catalog that offers a variety of gift suggestions. For one employee, that could mean a trip to the spa. Other employees might appreciate a family four-pack of theater tickets, a gift card redeemable at a local mall or perhaps an iPod or other electronic device. You can also use your rewards catalog for an employee of the month award or other special recognition event.
Larger businesses have more options when it comes to incentives and may have deeper pockets too. There are some incentives that go beyond rewarding employees, rather they can help your community. For instance, if a local children’s club needs a new playground, your business might consider providing the workers, tools and equipment to build a new one. You can ask for volunteers, people that would commit a day to working outside and building the new play area. Employees would not be charged a vacation day and you might end up benefiting a number of children of your employees who are cared for by this same club after school. You’ll lose valuable productivity for one day, but gain content employees and extend goodwill to the community. Your financial investment may be tax deductible and your community visibility raised an important notch.
Many corporations give back to the community in tangible ways. For instance Proctor & Gamble offers a “Loads of Hope” program where company employees go to disaster areas and offer to wash people’s clothing in Tide detergent with its mobile laundromat. People have expressed gratitude as clean clothes can be difficult to come by when a home has been flood damaged and their patience tested. Your company could do something similar by offering care packages to the local community.
The Hard Rock Cafe has given millions of dollars to a variety of charities by donating the proceeds from the sale of select signature shirts. Your company might sell a product that employees would like to see benefit the community. Or consider setting aside 10 percent of your profits to assist a charity or a cause, one that your employees have a hand in choosing.
All Business: Employee Incentive Arrangements for Small Businesses
The Ladies Home Journal: Companies That Care: Brands That Give Back
EPR contributor James Scaggs is the Director of Marketing for ecommerce retail sites Ties.com and Scarves.com, based in Orange County California. Check out Ties.com for a huge selection neckties, bow ties, skinny ties, tie racks, tie bars, and more.