Workplace Productivity: 4 Employee Incentives That Actually Work

Happy Employee
March 9, 2020
66 / 100

Employee satisfaction is a huge contributor to any company’s bottom line. A five-year research study showed that an increase in job satisfaction also leads to a 6.6 percent productivity rise per hour. What’s more, other research looking to connect productivity and workplace satisfaction showed that sales can increase by over a third when workers feel fulfilled.

This means that, if you’re looking for employee incentives that actually work, you need to look at ways to keep your staff satisfied, engaged, and inspired.

Doing this, however, isn’t as easy as we’d all wish it was. A cash bonus won’t make up for poor company culture. Nor will strict rules and unmanageable quotas inspire people to do better work.

The key lies in inspiring. After all, that’s what makes great leaders truly great – their ability to encourage those around them to do work they will take pride in.

The following employee incentives aim to do just that: invite innovation, motivate, and ultimately, create a positive environment for everyone working towards a common goal.

Encourage Accountability

Being a leader or manager makes it easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you’re bearing the weight of the world on your shoulders. People in high positions tend to take pride in the fact that they’re irreplaceable (or at least very difficult to replace). But leadership is much more than being amazing at what you do. It’s about teaching and allowing others to gain the skills necessary to not only reach your level but to surpass it.

Underestimating team members is also an easy trap to fall into. Take interns, for example – there are just so many companies that, instead of allowing them to learn and develop, keep these eager young minds doing tasks that are often completely unnecessary.

Think about your team, and ask yourself: is there anyone who shows promise and enthusiasm, yet is spending their time on projects that could be done by someone less skilled? Is there anyone who seems to be stuck, bored, and unchallenged in their work? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, it’s time to give that person a chance.

Encouraging accountability  is one of the best ways you can inspire an employee to go above and beyond. In addition to engagement, it also results in a higher level of job satisfaction, mainly because it gives purpose to low-level tasks.

But don’t just assign responsibility: if you want to create employee incentives that will encourage higher effort, you’ll also need to know how to reward people for a job well done.

Offer Training Opportunities

It’s no secret that great results require innovation. And the single best way to inspire out-of-the-box thinking is to encourage employees to learn new things as often as possible. Unfortunately, not everyone sees training opportunities as something positive. Although millennials want more of them, traditional methods may not always work. Training opportunities need to be enticing, but above all, they need to clearly show potential for self-development and be accompanied by engaged coaching.

A great way to get the results you want is to speak to your employees directly and listen. Even during the onboarding process, you can inquire about the skills they hope to learn or perfect at their new position.

You can also go a step further and invite employees to find training opportunities that excite them. People will come up with very different things – some may want to visit a seminar abroad, while others will prefer an online course. Offering them the opportunity to pursue their interests will prove to be a great reward, as well as a great incentive to go above and beyond.

Remove Time-Wasters, Frustrations, and Obstacles

If you want to implement employee incentives that will truly inspire discretionary effort, you must be aware of all the negatives your workers have to deal with on a daily basis. If you think about it, every single job has its bad sides. Many of these negatives can be eliminated.

If you’re unsure where to start, you can conduct an anonymous survey and ask your staff to list the three things that take up too much of their time without actually leading to results of high consequence. This type of information will give you the necessary insight into processes that you want to optimize.

Once you know about the frustrations, you can take the required steps to eliminate them. Invest in tech that will speed up certain processes. Or, subscribe to software options that can automate reports. You can purchase advanced solutions that can completely replace a personal assistant.

Another way to have your employees focus on what matters is to look at tasks that can be outsourced. Some jobs simply don’t have to be done in-house, and having them performed by a freelancer or remote worker can be cheaper than hiring for the role .

Don’t Forget About Traditional Incentives

Some incentives simply work like a charm, despite having been around for decades. A cash bonus, a promotion, or extra days off can all be amazing ways to inspire your staff. Even more, you might want to experiment with remote work, offer company swag, event tickets, gym memberships, or full-blown paid vacations for your top performers. Any of these are sure to motivate.

The key here, however, is to use them smartly. On their own, they won’t be guaranteed to work. Instead, you should combine them with meaningful practices that will create a better company culture, thus allowing your entire team to thrive and contribute to your common goals.

Be Creative and True to Yourself

As a leader, you should be aware of the fact that no one knows your team as well as you do. This puts you in a unique position to help them become better with every passing day. Employee incentives are sure to inspire increases in productivity and performance, but the best ones can only be chosen by someone who truly understands their staff. So don’t be afraid to make bold choices, even though they’re not listed here.

If you feel like the best way to inspire your team is to take them out to lunch every Wednesday, or to allow them to work remotely on Fridays, don’t hesitate. Even if three months in, you find that a particular method didn’t pan out as you wanted it to, you’ll still have gained valuable insight into how you can make your staff the best it can be.

Feature image:

Author Bio:
Sarah Kaminski is a freelance writer and social media marketer. She works with a number of small businesses to build their brands through more engaging marketing and content.


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