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Boosting the value of employees through incentive programs

Firms that strive to balance their employee incentive programs may be able to create value for their workers.

In today's volatile economy, businesses are examining their employee management programs to seek a better understanding of what motivates their staff. Lower consumer spending is increasing competition for limited resources, and top-performing firms recognize that addressing the needs of their employees can raise productivity and performance.

A recent survey by Towers Watson found that 60 percent of companies were failing to maintain their top talent. This can increase demands on other workers and, along with the struggling economy, has created a period of high stress among employees.

Build a portfolio
Firms that strive to balance their employee incentive programs may be able to stop reacting to movements in the labor market and create value for their workers. Cultivating an environment where people want to work can increase production, but not every employee wants the same things.

It can be difficult to determine exactly what motivates employees. A World at Work white paper notes that asking the wrong questions can give executives the wrong answers. Asking more specific questions in employee satisfaction surveys can help generate more robust, sophisticated and insightful answers from participating workers. For example, the source notes that asking employees to choose between different programs can prove more insightful than even open-ended questions.

Providing reward options can be especially helpful in motivating different demographics, which is why the source also recommends creating a balanced portfolio of incentive programs. Implementing a total rewards strategy makes it possible for companies to appeal to all generations. Letting workers select the programs in which they want to participate, as well as the rewards they can earn, will encourage more participation and lead to more production.

Align with long-term goals
Once a company has chosen the type of employee incentive program that best fits its needs, the next step is to make sure  the initiative is aligned with business goals. Incorporating the reward program into the company culture can make it easier to produce the desired results. The entire organization will be working toward the same objective, overcoming challenges and adjusting to new influences. This can make the business stronger and more adaptable in the market.

Often, companies look at incentive programs as single, stand-alone features designed to help achieve specific goals. Focusing on building the value of employees can change this perception, making initiatives more about improving overall performance, skills or knowledge. A portfolio of programs can help firms achieve specific results while building toward their long-term objectives.

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