Holding onto the best talent, and getting the most out of that talent, has never been more complicated. However, the best way to keep employees happy and at their most productive is still the oldest method in the book: incentivisation.
Decent training regimes will give you a good foundation to build on, but if you’re not keeping on top of what keeps your staff motivated, you risk the team becoming restless and turning in poor results. Even worse, they could decide you’re not giving them what they need and abandon ship. A good incentive program should keep this from happening and should also help your business achieve its goals with greater efficiency. But where to begin?
Before you focus elsewhere, start by examining your own business goals. Are you aiming to incentivise your staff simply in order to achieve greater profits? Or are you looking to increase customer satisfaction and build your brand? The answer will almost certainly dictate the incentive strategies you decide to utilise.
Understanding your team is crucial if you want to get the most out of them. How, for example, can you hope to properly motivate someone if you don’t know their personal goals? Knowing your staff strengths and weaknesses means you are not only better equipped to know when to use their talents (and when to leave them on the sidelines), but allows you to develop a more bespoke incentive program based around their specific wants, needs, and motivations. Keep an eye on your staff by holding performance appraisals and having more casual conversations with them, taking an interest in their lives outside of work, where relevant.
In the sales world most incentive programs are built around commission, but feedback is also an important way to encourage your employees. This means using both positive and negative (where applicable and useful) feedback on a regular basis. Not only does good staff feedback cost literally nothing, but it can both promote staff confidence and reward best practice, as well as acknowledge where changes need to be made. Ultimately, if you’re not telling your staff what they are doing wrong then they won’t know what to work at. Don’t shy away from constructive criticism. Of course, there is also the potential for going overboard with the criticism, which could lead to low staff morale. It’s all about finding the right balance; praise them too much and they could become arrogant, chastise them too much and they could become downtrodden.
There can be no better way to light a fire under your existing employees than bringing in some top new talent. Use a specialist recruitment agency to root out the top talent in your field and integrate them into the team as quickly and organically as possible. Of course, bringing a new team member on board might be seen as an aggressive tactic – a way to put the fear of god into staff members who might have been falling behind. However, if you make the right hire at the right time, it can actually bring a team closer together, particularly if you’re hiring for a new role.
If your staff have ever complained to you that their computer systems are outdated or they need to park 10 minutes away because there are not enough dedicated parking spaces at the office, these are simple things to rectify. It might mean dipping into the budget, but how can you expect your staff to reach the goals you’ve set for them if they are not properly equipped to do so? Almost every industry under the sun is more heavily reliant on tech, so denying your staff the access to the tech is tantamount to self-sabotage.
Bonuses, commissions and raises are the three pillars of financial incentives and they have been used for decades to reward good work and good results. Financial incentives can catalyse healthy competition (which is always worth encouraging), and are an obvious route to employee fealty. However, a monetary reward on its own can be no substitute for real motivation. In fact, it’s been proven that employees respond better to non-cash incentives. Non-financial incentives can be more specifically tailored towards your workers and can involve anything from vouchers and company days out to recognition schemes and even more creative rewards that are dictated by your staff’s wants and needs (which also, ties neatly into “Knowing Your Staff”).
Of course, how you execute your incentive program is just as important as the incentives themselves. Make sure you keep it simple. Communicate with your staff regularly and stick to your guns (and your promises). Skilled employees are comfortably the most vital asset of any business. Keep them happy and keep them incentivised, and you’ll soon start to notice the results.