Tips For Creating an Effective Employee Incentive Program

By Lisa A. Rozycki, Marketing Director, Reinsel & Company LLP

Editor's Note: In an article published on AccountingWEB, Lisa Rozycki described how employee incentive programs can "Bring out the Best in Your Firm." Following up on this topic, Ms. Rozycki provides these tips for creating a successful incentive program.

Marketing directors searching for ways to bring out the best in their firms’ professionals should follow these guidelines in creating a successful incentive program:

  1. Start out by developing a clear set of goals and objectives the firm wants to achieve with the program. At the end of a program year, you will be able to objectively measure the results.
  2. The most highly motivated individuals or groups are those that have clearly defined, attainable goals. To motivate staff, set realistic goals for every level or team that participates.
  3. Determine your budget and tie it back to your expected return on investment. Budget for incentive costs, the promotional costs of educating employees, and the administrative costs of tracking performance and distributing awards.
  4. Make sure your expectations are realistic, achievable, and sincere. This is the key to building credibility for your incentive program.
  5. Understand the lifestyles and demographic make-up of your firm’s professionals. Each generation perceives the value of a gift or reward differently. Keep this in mind when considering incentive pay, rewards, and recognition.
  6. The kickoff for a program is an important step. The goal should be to create excitement for the program and for everyone to clearly understand the objectives. The program should be fun and lively.
  7. Recognize and reward effort as well as successes. Lower level staff may not have the experience or ability to bring in new clients but it is important to recognize them for their efforts.
  8. Keep everyone informed of his/her progress. Constant evaluations maintain excitement while working towards the goal. Send out frequent reminders to staff to keep them motivated.
  9. Cash isn’t always the best incentive! People feel less comfortable talking about money than they do about earning a trophy or a nice trip. Non-cash awards are also more likely to be remembered.
  10. At the end of a program year, a critical evaluation of the results can provide valuable information you can use for creating a more effective program. Look at both quantitative and qualitative data. Was the budget justified given the return on investment? Does your staff appear more marketing oriented?

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