1. Understand why the employee is having issues. Communication is the first step. Incentives or rewards will not engage problem individuals if they are struggling in other areas, so identify the root of the problem. Why is the employee struggling or not living up to expectations? Is it a lack of skills that can be solved with training? Is the employee’s personality creating obstacles to learning or improving? Are personal problems creeping into the office and causing performance issues?
2. Know the corporate culture. To build an effective rewards and incentives program, know employees and understand the culture in which they work. Many variables contribute to corporate culture, and demographics is one of the biggest factors. If an employee falls outside of the core demographics, he or she may not feel engaged with other employees or company business methods. Continuous training and interoffice gatherings, social or business related, can help alleviate feelings of not fitting in with peers.
3. Customize programs. In general, trying to execute a one-size-fits-all program is a recipe for failure. This is especially true in a diverse workplace. Knowing employees’ interests and hobbies helps. Do they like to travel, golf or ski? Are they shoppers or homebodies? By matching rewards to their interests, talent managers can create a more personalized approach to demonstrate caring and motivate employees after a program ends.
4. Communicate. Regardless of the type of rewards program, maintain continuous communication. Don’t rely on the prize to motivate an employee throughout the process. For some, the prize may seem too far from reach; remind employees that their small, daily efforts can have a huge impact. Utilizing the right communication methods can be the fine line between success and failure. Asking for feedback lets talent managers know if the program is reaching its intended audience and can help when planning the next program.
5. Know when to make changes. If the aforementioned steps have been taken and employees are still not productive, they may be complacent from doing the same tasks for years or be bored by a lack of stimulating challenges. Offer them a different role, perhaps one featuring newer experiences to remind them what they liked about the company in the first place. This is worth trying because it can be less costly to reposition employees than to replace them. If there is no immediate opening, developing a career path could make them more engaged in their current job.
6. Know when to get help. There are times when managers might be in over their heads. Managing an effective rewards program with constant communication takes a lot of work, and seeking external assistance can help hit established targets.
7. Know when to call it quits. A toxic employee can greatly impact the morale and productivity of an entire team, rendering an incentive or rewards program useless. Knowing when to terminate could be the best thing for the employee and the company long term. Much like personal relationships, opening new doors can lead to a happier environment for everyone.
Jennifer Vecchi is the manager of incentives and recognition programs at Atlas Travel Meetings & Incentives in Milford, Mass. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.