Tokens of Appreciation

By Christine Neuberger

It’s no secret: To get the biggest profits possible, you should extract the most you can out of your employees. But where do people do their best work? In an atmosphere where they feel valued. More and more, companies are using incentive programs to foster a work environment where workers feel appreciated. According to Blockbuster Inc.’s booklet “Power Tips for Running a Successful Incentive Program in Your Business or Organization,” incentive programs try to inspire incremental performance in return for an incremental reward. But what’s the real point of an incentive campaign? To create a bond linking the award with the organization, says Blockbuster, which offers gift cards good at its 5,000-plus stores in the U.S. The company-employee bond makes the workforce believe the corporation cares about employee welfare and that it will tend to acknowledge contributions. After all, people enjoy feeling that they’re making a contribution – and that their contributions gain recognition and appreciation.

Here are some rules of thumb that Blockbuster’s booklet offers for managers beginning to design incentive programs that result in high return on the investment – and a work atmosphere where their achievements are rewarded:

Get participants involved. Permit recipients to pick which achievements will be recognized – and how the accomplishments are rewarded.

Run programs that strongly influence the area of concern. “Improved morale is a bonus.”

Leave room to change the goals. Aim to offer flexible, short-term programs that allow the sponsor to focus on different goals each month.

Want to improve the chances of energizing employees to boost the company’s performance? Conduct more kinds of plans and design them synergistically.

Remember to follow up on the program’s results. Use proxy measures to gauge the effects.

Design incentive programs that include measures within an individual’s control. This may be more difficult to design, but it is also more fair.

Link the incentive to the “you are valued” message.