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Ways to increase participation in incentive programs

Providing staff members with a way to contribute to the creation of the initiative will increase the sense of ownership of the program and its goals.

Developing successful employee rewards and recognition programs requires careful planning. Many firms take the time to clearly examine their initiatives' goals or to create unique rewards. However, getting workers to participate often takes more than simply having the right rewards. Some staff members may be resistant to the changes, leading to low participation and disappointing results. Fortunately, there are steps businesses can take to increase engagement levels as employees move through their incentive programs.

Acknowledge early success
In his book, "Drive," Daniel Pink notes early obstacles can quickly discourage people from making lasting change. Employees are emotionally attached to how they conduct their work, even if their processes are inefficient, because the approach is familiar. Businesses need to overcome those resistances, and acknowledging early success is the easiest way to accomplish this.

Taking some time to reward staff members who have quickly adjusted to new procedures or practices can encourage others to follow the same path. These early rewards may be small, but should be personal to increase the motivation for all employees. Once teams are on the right path, it will be easier for businesses to initiate larger changes.

Promote the program to lift engagement
Too often, companies launch employee reward programs without considering how they will encourage participation. Failing to market an initiative will limit results, as few staff members will undertake the challenge. Employees need to be properly motivated to participate in an initiative, and that means thinking beyond the rewards for ways to encourage participation.

Companies can use social media, video, email and other internal communication channels to infuse company culture and lift engagement levels. The continual reminders about the program and its objective will help create an environment in which participation is expected. These strategies are particularly helpful with companywide initiatives, where it can be challenging to reach all staff members individually.

Provide avenues for feedback
No matter how much planning is done beforehand, there will always be ways to improve rewards and recognition programs. Businesses need to be sure to provide ways for employees to offer their feedback about rewards or the administration of the program itself, as well as suggest more efficient ways to accomplish the company's objectives, leading to even better results. Providing staff members with a way to contribute to the creation of the initiative will increase the sense of ownership of the program and its goals. This can boost participation and lead to higher levels of engagement.

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