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Support your reward programs to drive participation

Employee incentive programs need the same level of organizational support as other management initiatives to see the best results.

Imagine the following scenario: A company recognizes the need for an employee rewards and recognition program and invests the time and money to create the ideal incentive plan, only to have no one participate.

For reward programs to generate results, they need a high level of participation from employees. Unfortunately, there is often a breakdown in communication between senior management and the workers meant to be engaged by the programs. A study by WorldatWork shows that while 86 percent of organizations have recognition programs in place, just 42 percent of employees are aware of these initiatives, iMedia Connection reports.

Companies that fail to promote their own reward programs will see little participation. Employees need regular communications about initiatives to help them understand how these work and how they can benefit. Educating workers about the overall objective of a program could even motivate them to find ways to improve it and create a more effective and engaging experience.

Design a program that makes employees want to participate
In some cases, employee feedback could indicate that rewards or benchmarks need to be adjusted or clarified. If employees don't understand how their performance will be measured, they are less likely to participate. Similarly, if they feel that the goals established for their teams are too ambitious, this could discourage them from trying to meet the objectives. Having the right mix of clear and attainable goals can boost participation. To maximize return on investment, companies could consider having several benchmarks to motivate workers to continually reach new levels of accomplishment. Achieving a few easy goals at the start may inspire teams to strive harder for the big objective at the end of the month.

Similarly, the rewards that companies offer influence employee perception of programs. Getting a handful of gift cards can seem impersonal and may not inspire additional effort from staff members. Street Fight Magazine states that large, over-the-top rewards can boost participation in any program. When employees want something, they are willing to put in the extra effort to get it. Large rewards can be expensive and may encourage competition if their supplies are limited. For departments looking to minimize costs, a better solution may be personalized rewards.

Companies need to carefully consider every aspect of their reward programs if they want them to run effectively. This includes designing promotional efforts to educate employees about the programs and their objectives. Employee incentive programs need the same level of organizational support as other management initiatives to see the best results.

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