Back to Incentive Basics: Types of Incentive Programs

Get to know the types of incentive programs you can use to drive performance.

When it comes to motivating your team in this day and age, you’ve got multiple types of incentive programs to choose from. But while that can be a blessing, it can also get confusing, and fast. What works for one organization might not work for yours. How much do you spend? Who’s eligible? How do you figure out the best incentive program for you?

It’s OK to feel under-informed and overwhelmed at the same time. But don’t worry, we’re here to help. Whether you’re rebuilding an old incentive program or starting from scratch, let’s introduce (or review) the different types of incentive programs available.

But first, the basics BEHIND the basics:

Know your business. And know your people.

That’s it. Learn ‘em, love ‘em, live ‘em. If you don’t follow those two simple instructions, no incentive program you come up with will ever hit the mark. Now, once those are covered, how do you choose the right way to motivate your team to achieve higher performance levels?

  1. Define clear goals: What are you trying to accomplish, and why? Is it achievable? Is it measurable?
  2. Set your budget: If you’re developing your first program, start small – you don’t want to set a bar you can’t reach next year. If you’ve run programs before, leverage your existing data to determine the most bang for your buck.
  3. Consider your audience: Is age a factor? What about location and demographics? You don’t want to reward your beach-loving Hawaii rep with a North Face parka. What will motivate them? What’s worked well with past incentives? What’s relevant and valuable? And what will make your people feel appreciated?

This may seem like a lot of questions, but the more you can answer now, the more successful your program will be. Now, once your homework is done, there are three basic buckets of incentives to consider for your program:

Cash and Bonuses

This is still the easiest, most common, and often the first type of incentive people think of. But while cash is king, it’s not the most personal option, and can be easily forgotten. And, although cash can be an effective motivator to hit goals on a deadline, many organizations (and recipients) don’t tie this incentive to a specific goal, often relegating it to an end-of-year bonus for overall performance. To make this option work harder, consider tying it to specific tasks or goals, and then putting the cash towards an experience or personal goal, like finishing a degree, learning to sail, or putting a down payment on a car.

WORKS WELL FOR:

  • Sales teams
  • Employees (company-wide)

Points-Based

With this type of incentive program, recipients earn incrementally and have significantly more personal choice in their award than a check at the end of the year. You can set your program to accrue points based on sales, leads, calls (for call centers), or any other desired action. Then, much like popular loyalty programs, your people can cash in their points for experiences, travel, merchandise, or gift cards whenever they choose, whether it’s one gigantic top-tier item, or several mid- or lower-tier items.

WORKS WELL FOR:

  • Sales teams
  • Employees (company-wide)
  • Distributor/partner programs

Travel Incentives

One of the best ways to reward your people with experiences rather than “stuff” is the travel incentive, which is often tied to larger goals over a longer period of time, and awarded to an elite group of performers. You choose a destination and event that fits the culture of your business – but also one your people aren’t likely to get to on their own (high-profile conferences, conventions, concerts, or festivals come to mind). Once goals are set, either individually or as an organization, progress (sales or other metrics) can be tracked to determine eligibility for the group travel experience, and just like that, you’re making memories worthy of your company’s “About Us” page.

WORKS WELL FOR:

  • Sales teams
  • Network marketing teams
  • Distributor/partner programs

So, there are the basics – a good starting point if you’re just ramping up your incentives journey, or rebuilding your program. Need help taking the next step? We work with you to ensure that every base is covered, every incentive is meaningful, and you get just the right fit for your business and your budget. Just contact us today to get started.

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