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Exploring incentives for employee engagement

Published 5th December 2013 by IIP Scotland

Research by Australian firm Culture Amp seems to suggest that remuneration is far from being the decisive factor that some make it out to be. 

In research from earlier this year, they came to the conclusion that pay was in the top 10 drivers for employee engagement in only 2-3% of companies.  This is not to say that salary cannot be a driver to engagement.  In some organisations, pay structures have dipped down to well below market rates.  With the British economy only now beginning to show an upward curve, salaries have been left far behind inflation.  This can impact on engagement levels if left unchecked.

As we have discussed previously, there are many more subtle methods to harnessing a more engaged workforce however.  Issues such as an employees belief in the leadership team; development opportunities in their current position; work/life balance; whether they feel cared about by leaders; internal politics or lack thereof and the culture and values set within an organisation can all play a far more important part in whether an employee feels engaged or not.

It is however possible to raise employee morale and perhaps engagement through the use of incentives as a method of positive reinforcement. Incentives can help engage employees, and engaged employees enhance your bottom line through higher productivity and satisfied customers.  Incentives are therefore are a indirect-line to bottom-line results.  As a method that reinforces and rewards outcomes, it can be extremely effective.

We would advise:-

  • Offer incentives for a specific action
  • The action that you are rewarding does not need to have been successful, eg if it was an innovative but ultimately unsuccessful idea
  • Offer any incentives as soon as possible after the event has occurred in order to reinforce the action
  • Employees like recognition that provides an element of surprise
  • All employees must be eligible for incentives
  • Don’t single out a few favourites who mysteriously receive recognition every time
  • Don’t apply incentives haphazardly so that some receive them while others don’t
  • Establish criteria for incentives
  • Praise should be given out as often as possible! The easiest and cheapest route to engagement is through using the two words “Thank You”