If you own or are just starting a business, the concept of employee incentives may not have yet occurred to you. You may think your company is too small to bother with these types of formalities, or that the nature of the work some of your employees perform doesn’t merit incentives.
Unfortunately, this type of attitude has the potential to do far more harm than good for your business as a whole. Even part-time employees can benefit from incentives, particularly if you want the best possible work.
Have you ever seen the movie Office Space? It should really be required viewing for anyone who owns a business with employees. It’s crude at times, but the wisdom it offers on how to get the best from your staff is undeniable.
Take this exchange between an employee and a consultant who has come in to help streamline the staff:
Peter: It’s a problem of motivation, all right? Now if I work my [rear end] off and Initech ships a few extra units, I don’t see another dime, so where’s the motivation? And here’s something else, Bob, I have eight different bosses right now.
Bob: I beg your pardon?
Peter: Eight bosses.
Peter: Eight, Bob. So that means that when I make a mistake, I have eight different people coming by to tell me about it. That’s my only real motivation is not to be hassled, that and the fear of
losing my job. But you know, Bob, that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.
Sure, this is a comedy movie intended to be a source of humor, but the best humor holds a grain of truth. The truth in this exchange? That without employee incentives, your staff will work just hard enough not to get fired. Since employees are often the public face of your business, is “good enough” really what you want to put out there?
Incentives aren’t that difficult to implement, either. You simply need to set realistic goals for sales, customer retention or whatever metric you use to measure the success of your business, and then offer some sort of bonus to your employees for meeting those goals.
The incentive doesn’t even have to be money. You can offer extra personal days, flexible scheduling, or even the freedom to telecommute in certain situations. The important part is giving your employees something to strive for, and rewarding their efforts.