Does Your Incentive Plan Fit Your Brand?

employee incentive plans“If you want someone to do something you have to pay them.” I heard this early in my career as it pertained to a new commission structure that my manager introduced. While there was some credence to his thinking, it includes an erroneous assumption that people are motivated by only one thing. With that mentality you have to ask yourself, do you want employees that are motivated by money alone? More important, what does that do to your brand?

Hard sell tactics rarely bring about images of comfort and positive experiences in the minds of most consumers. While it is certainly acceptable for incentives, cash or otherwise, to be a motivator it always scares me when it is the motivator. Here are a few tips to make sure the incentives you offer employees not only encourage the right behavior but also align with your brand:

  • Review your mission and values. As suggested above, I doubt the original driving force of the business was a mission statement that read “Force a sale on every customer.” The original impetus was probably to solve a specific need or to provide customers with something special. The person or people that started the business almost certainly had a specific passion. Tap into that passion in an attempt to create similar motivations among all employees.
  • Get staff involved. If you really want to know what motivates people ASK. To some money will be the prime motivator. To others time off or recognition will be more important. While you don’t necessarily want to create multiple incentive plans, a program that is multi-faceted will probably appease most if not all employees. The most important aspect, however, is engaging staff. People support what they help to create.
  • Make sure you are rewarding all positive behavior that builds your brand. Sales are certainly the lifeblood of any business. Therefore, it’s important to encourage the proper behavior among the team to increase business. However, there are additional activities that help build a brand. For example, one of my first jobs was working at a branch of Citibank. They had a program called Citipoints they used to motivate employees for cross-selling, accuracy, teamwork, etc. The biggest Citipoint award given out while I was there was for a teller that drove to the home of one of our elderly customers to help her with some important transactions. The award was given out during an all-staff meeting. This clearly sent a message to everyone as to how important service was to the brand of our branch.

As always, we would like to hear from you. What have you found to be the best incentives to keep your employees motivated and to provide a positive brand experience for your customers?

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