By: UwinIwin International

Incentive programmes are used to reward employees for contributing to a company’s business goals. In other words – if employees perform extraordinarily, they get rewarded. Sales go up and employees receive rewards, prizes or trips. The company is happy and the employees are happy.

So why is this not always the case? Why do incentive programmes fail?

The biggest reason is because employees’ expectations are not met. If the incentive programme is not rewarding, according to expectations, the employees will not be motivated to participate.

Here are a three primary reasons why incentive programmes fail.

1.  Lack of Communication
The best plans are derailed by poor communication. It is important for participants to know what is expected of them and how they will be rewarded. Specifically, they must know what reward they will receive by accomplishing a specific goal.

Your employees must know their own and the company’s objectives, which means that the company’s performance must be communicated throughout so that employees’ expectations for rewards align with reality. This doesn’t necessarily mean the company must show their full financials to all employees, but rather a leader board of targets measured against employee performance.

2. Little Value in the Reward
Incentives don’t motivate people unless they see value in the reward. It doesn’t have to be money, but it does need to be meaningful. Rewards have to be desirable to a range of people with different motivations. This is why it is a good idea to offer a variety of rewards. Employees can then choose the reward that is relevant to them.

It is also important that rewards are fair and that targets are based on employees’ roles, experience, seniority, and any other factors.

3. Lack of Measurement
An employee’s performance must be measured to determine if they comply with the goals set out in the programme. The criteria should be clear and measurable.

If there is no clear evaluation process, neither you nor the employee will know whether the goal has been met. And, if you don’t know if the goal was met, then you don’t know if the reward is earned.


How To Make Sure Your Programme Yields the Desired Results

Be Strategic: The best incentive plans promote behaviours that are consistent with the company’s strategic plan, marketing efforts, financial goals, productivity processes, and personnel development. Without purposeful linkage to your strategy, incentive plans risk promoting behaviours that are contradictory to the stated strategy. Incentive prgrammes must be implemented with care, after doing the right research into the company, its values, its goals, its mission and its culture. Your company must know what it wants to get out of the programme. Incentive programmes require a meaningful investment in order to show a substantial ROI. (Successful incentive programmes deliver an ROI of between 22% to 40%.)

Speak Up: Communication must be as much a
part of the programme as the awards. There should be a communication
plan with specific dates linked to email communiqués, SMS messages, website updates and physical handouts. The messages must all emphasise the reason for the programme, the duration of the programme, the criteria and goals, and the rewards.

Participants must know what they
need to do and must be motivated to accomplish the goal. Once the programme has come to a conclusion, the winners must be celebrated and the rest must look forward to the next opportunity.

Offer Relevant Rewards: The rewards should be relevant to the specific sector. They must consist of prizes people actually want. If it’s money, this needs to be enough to make a difference in the winners’ lives. If it’s prizes, there must be a variety of items to choose from – remember taste differs. If it is an incentive trip, it must be a destination everyone wants to visit, but wouldn’t necessarily fork out their own money to go there. It should be designed as a unique experience that provides lasting memories. 

Establish Clear Criteria: Participants need to know from the start exactly what is expected of them to
win the prize. The criteria should be set out in clear concise language detailing everything from the products that have to be sold, the sales figures that have to be reached, to the date the programme will end.

It is also a good idea to give employees a way to track their progress and keep them motivated. This is normally in the form of a personalised programme website that allows participants to check their progress against theiy targets and those of other participants and to transact either with points or other forms of currency.

Be Strategic: Before designing a program, it is critical that you know the business and the company’s strategy. An Incentive programme should not only support the company’s overall strategy, but also be strategic in what it is designed to accomplish.  


About Uwin Iwin International:
Uwin Iwin was started in1994 as a specialist provider of travel incentive solutions, and grew by natural progression into the reward and recognition space as well as the incentives space, with a significant amount of convergence between the two. From there the events and conferencing division was formed with a full marketing and communications support function. Headquartered in South Africa, Uwin Iwin International now has offices in India, United Kingdom, Kenya, Nigeria, Mauritius and Ghaha, as well as partnerships with companies in Latin America.