How to Incentivise Your Staff Correctly

Valued staff are happy staff. It’s a well proven fact that offering bonuses, perks and incentives increases employee satisfaction and can dramatically boost your bottom line. If you want to keep your workforce happy and productive, an incentive scheme or company discount card can work wonders.

By setting achievable goals, you can motivate staff to help drive your business objectives, whether this is an increase in sales, improved customer loyalty or better service levels. Not only this, it can encourage them to see themselves as a valued part of the business.

Plus, it’s a brilliant way of thanking your employees for their continued efforts. And everyone likes being thanked.

If you are thinking about setting up a staff incentive scheme, start by considering these top ten tips:

Decide on who you're incentivising

Every person you employ is essential to the success of your business. But the varied nature of the modern workforce means that not all staff members achieve success on the same terms. You may have a sales team whose efforts are measured by the number of units they sell. However, your clerical staff may work just as hard, but have no way of tangibly demonstrating their productivity. To ensure that you maintain harmony, it’s important that you reward everyone equally for their hard work. That’s why a workplace incentive scheme or company discount card is such a good idea.

You can reward people individually or strengthen working relationships by giving out prizes for the most successful team. Or both. The choice is yours.

Don’t Splash the Cash

Cash incentives may seem like a good idea, after all, who doesn’t love an extra few pounds in their pocket at the end of the month? But by giving cash, you are suggesting to your workforce that you are underpaying them for a job well done and that they deserve more. Cash incentives are easy to compare. If you pay one employee £100 one month, but reward another £80 for the same achievement the following month, resentments will build and you may be accused of favouritism. A company discount card makes a much better reward, but also offers a way for your employees to save money.

Choose the right rewards

The rewards you choose depend on the type of business you run and the people you employ. If you run an independent fashion label and your staff are predominantly young women, tickets to the FA Cup Final are unlikely to be as motivating as a spa weekend break for two. Vouchers are often a good idea as they allow recipients to choose their own prize. A points system or staff discount card are also good ways of helping team member accumulate the value of their reward and turn it in to something they truly desire.

Fix the Goalposts

It’s important for your employees to know what they are aiming to achieve and what they can expect in return when they do. By setting simple, achievable targets and making it clear how success will be measured, your team will understand what is expected of them and how close they are to the finishing line. Without setting standards, it’s far harder to determine who deserves praise and who needs a little more motivation.

Be Open to Change

If you’ve been running the same incentive scheme for a while, it’s a good idea to perform a simple health check. Are your team achieving the goals too often or not at all? Is the reward appropriate to the effort put in? Do your employees value the rewards you are giving them or do this need to be improved? Is the scheme helping you succeed in your overall business aims? Remember that the scheme should be an on-going process and encourage people to aim for long term improvement not just short term rewards.


The best way to generate support for your incentive scheme is to get people talking about it. Publicise it before, during and after the launch and you will ensure that your employees understand and appreciate it. Engagement is the key and this can be done using posters, internal emails, leaflets, letters and special events. When winners are chosen, make sure their achievements are honoured publically. Not only will this make them feel valued and respected, it will provide others with an example to live up to. Make sure you include details of the prize in your promotional materials and publish pictures of the deserving winner once they have received their prize.

Create relevant and measurable goals

If you are thinking about starting an employee incentive scheme, it’s essential that you think carefully about the goals you set. Not every business can base their incentive scheme on sales figures. Think about what you would like your business to achieve and how your staff can help you do this. Perhaps you should aim for 95% customer satisfaction. Or if you run a bespoke knitwear company, how about a reward for ‘most scarves knitted in a month’. And if you rely on digital marketing, you could reward the employee who generated most site visits. By setting clear objectives, you can avoid confusion over how success is achieved and reward those employees who are working hardest.

Don’t Set the Bar too High

Always remember that for the incentive to be motivational, it also has to be achievable. By setting unrealistic targets, you will demoralise your workforce and have a negative effect on productivity. When a team member achieves their target, ensure that you publicise their success. This will help people see the benefits of achieving their goals and encourage them to work even harder.

Analyse and Publicise

The best way to motivate people is to add a healthy element of competition to the work environment. And the most effective way of doing this is to publish progress reports, statistics and league tables. This will help people see where their strengths lie and what needs a little more work. If you keep careful records, you will also be able to analyse productivity before and after the introduction of your incentive scheme and see how well it’s working. For example, if you are using staff discount cards to incentivise your workforce, you can offer additional discounts for top performing staff and track how often this discount is used and how effective the incentive is.

Fresh for Success

We all know that the working day goes quicker when we have something exciting to look forward to. That’s why it’s important to keep your incentive scheme fresh, varied and engaging. Always keep in my mind your business objectives and realign your incentive scheme appropriately. This will help you keep rewards relevant and your staff motivated.

Staff incentives