Employee incentive programs are an important way to motivate your workforce and to enhance employee experience. When rewards are set up incorrectly, however, they serve to decrease employee satisfaction and to undermine productivity.

The underlying assumption of some incentive programs is that organizational efficiency is the same as employee satisfaction. Key performance indicators (KPIs) and agency strategic goals become directly connected to employee satisfaction to produce disastrous (and expensive) consequences.

Choosing the Right Indicators

Agency leadership may institute a full-blown incentive program without having a more in-depth understanding of the processes that are driving events like absenteeism and lack of participation in team events.

For example, it is easy to assume that lack of participation indicates dissatisfaction without considering other possible explanations. Discomfort in group settings, lack of information and time constraints are just a few of the circumstances that may keep team members from actively participating in events and discussions.

Likewise, employees who are satisfied with their job may, nevertheless, sense a lack of opportunity for long-term professional growth. Such individuals may (happily) work in their role until a more challenging position appears and will then (unhappily, perhaps) leave your agency to pursue a better opportunity.

Metrics like absenteeism, tardiness and staff retention may be more closely connected to departmental processes and organizational efficiency than to employee satisfaction. The success of your incentive program may well hinge on your understanding that every metric often tells only part of the story.

Agency Scorecard and Employee Experience

The relationship between departmental processes and job satisfaction is not direct and is mediated by some significant intervening factors. Agency practices that are inefficient often lead to employee dissatisfaction and disenfranchisement. Stalemates and bottlenecks that are created by inefficient and unnecessary processes can increase frustration and contribute to a feeling of inertia.

The absence of timely communication about policies and updates often leads to a disconnect between an employee and his or her team, resulting in a lack of motivation to achieve company agendas. Lack of support for accomplishing professional goals can lead an employee to look elsewhere for an environment that can offer intellectual stimulation.

You can maximize the effectiveness of your incentive program by engaging your team in discussions about current policies and proposed changes. Asking your team to provide information about agency practices that seem to be inefficient can be an important first step in establishing an incentive structure that really works. Such discussions can be instrumental in removing obstacles that impede employee satisfaction.

Connecting Incentives to Productivity

While it is important to relate department outcomes to team efforts, performance should also be rewarded at the individual level. An effective way to do this is to embed individual incentives within team goals to provide rewards at both levels.

This example, which is based on a mythical car dealership, illustrates the process of connecting KPIs to productivity-based incentives.

KPI: Number of vehicles sold each year
Measurable objective: This location will sell 100 vehicles in the month of April.
Team goal: Each team will sell 50 vehicles in the month of April.
Performance metric: Number of vehicles sold by each team in the month of April

A dual-reward system ensures that there is continued progress towards company goals and also recognizes high achievers at the individual level. Connecting the agency mission to employee incentives motivates the workforce while also maximizing profits.

Choosing the Right Incentives

Managers often assume that time off, more money and company picnics are good incentives. They are. The problem is that not everyone experiences reward in the same manner.

Time off may be a great idea for an employee who can afford to spend the extra week on the beach in the Bahamas. An employee who is financially strapped, however, may begrudge the idea of having an extra week to sit in front of the television or to do work around the house.

A word about individual differences

The most difficult part of setting up an effective employee incentive program is parting with the assumption that one size fits all. Choosing effective incentives often involves talking with your team about their activities, wishes and dislikes. A potential dialogue might include the following questions.

1. What do you like to do in your spare time?
2. Thinking back as far as you choose to, what is it that you have always wanted to do for a living?
3. If money and time were not an issue, what would be your ideal vacation?
4. If you did not have to worry about money, what would be your ideal job?
5. What activities really relax you? What makes you feel really healthy and on top of things?
6. Do you feel you are using your skills in your current job role?
7. What other skills would you like to be using more frequently?
8. If you could make one change in this company, what would it be? Why? How would you go about it?

Regular discussions may be incorporated into team meetings, company retreats or employee performance evaluations. In this manner, rewards can be skillfully integrated with each worker's professional development plan and merged with departmental processes.

Incentives that really motivate

Incentives tend to be most powerful when an employee chooses them. You can use information culled from discussions to develop a menu of incentives from which your team can choose.

Rewards may be tangible, non-tangible or a mix of both. The best selection of rewards might include a menu of different types of items. When an employee earns an incentive, he or she may select their reward from a choice of three or four options that fall within several categories.

Something to take home

The first category of incentives includes products and items that are mainly for the employee's offsite and personal use. Rewards include event tickets, gift certificates, gift boxes and electronic equipment. Services like club memberships and book subscriptions would also belong in this category if they are for individual use.

Group incentives in this reward class might include company merchandise like a branded sweatshirt and team events like pizza or ice cream parties. The team manager might be given temporary access to the company credit card, a budget set in stone, and an order to take his or her team to lunch at a restaurant of their choosing.

Incentives are nearly boundless and limited only by the reach of one's imagination.

Things that make work easier

Employees may experience frustration due to organizational inefficiency or to the lack of resources that are necessary for them to do their job. Still others have long distances to cover just to get to the office and may have to travel even more while at work if their position calls for it.

Incentives that make work easier include a computer or smart phone that is assigned to a specific employee for his or her exclusive use during work hours. It may sometimes be possible to let team members choose their work location to achieve a shorter commute. Team members might even choose to telecommute part-time to ease the load of work-related travel.

The thirty-minute nap can be a great incentive for employees who tend to feel burnt out during the day. Providing access to a special area for napping may be a very effective incentive for some of the workforce and will increase overall satisfaction and alertness to task.

Incentives can be implemented at the team level and are nearly limitless in scope. For example, a winning team might be given access to a more private meal break area for a week following their successful campaign. In some cases, team members might feel appreciated when given access to showers while at work, especially if their jobs involve contact with dirt or chemicals.

Rewards that improve work-life balance

Flexible work hours, choice of work schedule, extra time off and improved family leave programs can serve as powerful incentives for some individuals. However, it is important to note that not all lives are created equal.

Some employees may want more time to spend with family but others might feel intensely rewarded when given opportunities to ride a bicycle or to play video games during work hours. Still others would welcome the chance to leave work to catch a good sale at their local music store, only to return more satisfied after a couple of hours of shopping.

Financial incentives

Financial rewards are motivating for most people, possibly because they are tangible and immediate. Some of the incentives in this category include merit-based raises, performance-based bonuses, additional matching contributions to retirement funds and savings certificates.


Offering an array of incentives frees your work teams from being locked in and lets them choose different rewards at different times. Managers should routinely evaluate the effectiveness of their incentive program and be prepared to change its structure and incentives if the evaluation results indicate it.

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Orem employee experience software company sweetens the pot with new features, rebrand

{{ excerpt(`Four years ago, three friends started a small business detailing cars to make some money while they attended school.<br><br>Soon, Vivint hired the three to detail cars for employees at a discounted price as an employee “perk,” and companies like Qualtrics, doTerra, Instructure and more followed suit. “It was really flexible around school and we were making good money from it. But we’re always looking for bigger and better, and we got kind of sick of being out in the sun or in the snow,” Trevor Larson, one of the three friends, said.<br><br>As Larson and his friends, Jackson Horn and Andrew Hollis, worked with more and more HR professionals, they began to see a trend. “HR people have the best intentions to give the employee an amazing experience,” Larson said. “But they get so impeded by administrative tasks that they can rarely ever get to the things that they want to make an impact ... they don’t have the tools or resources to get to recognition and perks and different things in those areas.” Horn said they continued to ask HR professionals what they could do for them around work-culture related things, leading them to look beyond on-site services like car detailing to see how some companies would leverage their company size to get discounts from local places.“We thought, if these companies are able to do this, what if we were able to do that even better?” Horn said.<br><br>Together, Horn said, the friends thought they could build a network of companies and be the ones to reach out to restaurants, hotels and the like to get steep discounts, which they could then package for HR professionals. “We’ll be kind of the extension for the HR team,” Horn said.<br>Under the company name “PerkNow,” with Larson, Horn and Hollis all serving as co-founders, the new software company grew slowly, until they landed “anchor” accounts with companies like doTerra.<br>“It just kind of grew organically from there,” Horn said. “And it led us to keep asking the question, well, what other culture and cultural initiatives can we help HR out with?”<br><br>Another problem PerkNow saw within companies was the desire to reward employees with things like gift cards — but employers were often stuck getting gift cards at the last minute, and employees ended up with rewards they didn’t really want. With the help of developers, PerkNow developed a system to automate employee rewards, reducing the workload for administrators and enhancing the employee experiences.<br><br>Through PerkNow, companies can also give individual employees such as managers the ability to recognize their team or other employees with a “monthly budget” that the manager can award. Through the software platform created by hired developers — none of the co-founders had prior tech experience — the employee receiving the email receives the reward, and then they can choose whatever gift card they want, which is then downloaded onto their phone.<br><br>This month, PerkNow decided to rebrand as “Nectar,” letting companies know they’ve sweetened the pot with two more features to their software: employee voice and peer recognition.<br>“As we’ve expanded into other areas within HR, and within company culture, (we’ve been) very pigeonholed with (PerkNow),” Larson said. “Instead of being stuck in this one pillar of what we do ... we felt the rebrand is necessary now rather than later.” The name is symbolic, Larson said, springing from the idea that bees are the “epitome of good organization.”<br>“It’s the idea that bees, they go out and they have to collect nectar individually, and then they bring it back in. Nectar is actually the building block of honey,” Larson said. “So it’s kind of the same concept of, if you ... bring out software into your company, we can help create a sweet culture.”<br><br>Helping employees feel heard is one of the keys to creating a sweet company culture, according to Larson, Horn and Hollis. Through their software platform Nectar, HR administrators can send out “pulse” surveys more frequently with just a handful of questions, such as three to four questions every couple of weeks or every month. “That way, you’re getting real time feedback from employees, so that you can constantly be innovating and improving,” Larson said.<br><br>Based on research by Nectar, the software platform has a number of top questions to ask employees that can be sent out in a campaign in less than a minute, and can be scheduled in advance. Through Nectar, employers can view their “employee engagement score” and see trends over time, enabling companies to better address areas in need of improvement.<br><br>In addition to shorter, more frequent surveys, Nectar has a mechanism for employee feedback that involves a two-way anonymous chat. “Let’s say an employee leaves open-ended feedback like a comment in the survey. HR can go in (there) and they now have an inbox to see what people are saying and they can respond back. It opens a chat that’s two way and fully anonymous,” Larson said. “So internally they can resolve things versus employees going (somewhere else) because they have no internal channel to voice their feedback or their suggestions.” The ability for employees to feel heard, Horn said, is the most valuable part of the employee voice aspect of Nectar. “It’s cool to see employees being able to ... contribute and HR can respond and really build this culture of transparency within the company,” Horn said. “We find the most value in allowing employees to feel like they have a voice.”<br><br>The other relatively new addition to the platform is a peer recognition component — expanding employee recognition beyond leadership or management to employees. “Instead of doing top down recognition ... the company puts together a budget to allow all employees to get a certain monthly allowance that they give to each other,” Larson said.<br><br>The idea, Larson explained, is employees can attach whatever the recognition is — complimenting a co-worker on their hard work or leadership and so on — with a point award. The points employees have in their budget don’t accrue over time and can’t be used for themselves, encouraging employees to recognize their co-workers every month. When one employee recognizes another, it shows up in an internal recognition feed for the whole company to see. Once employees accrue points, they can pick a reward like a gift card, or company swag. “All that is built in to create this cadence or frequency around people recognizing each other for positive behaviors,” Larson said.<br><br>Having all of these things in one place, according to the founders, is one of the things that makes Nectar unique. Instead of companies need to use multiple platforms for perks or employee engagement, they can just use Nectar. And, the core product is free. The company continues to make a profit thanks to commissions from perks used and gift cards redeemed. “Our goal and our mission with this is, these (kinds of) tools are so cost prohibitive currently, that we want to open it up and get to as many companies and as many employees as possible,” Larson said. “It’s almost like democratizing recognition and employee feedback.”<br><br>Horn clarified there is still a paid version of everything, but companies can use the core product for free as long as they want. “We wanted to make the employee experience better and we feel like this is the best and easiest way,” Horn said. “The fat that we’re getting money from the gift cards on the back end ... makes it so more people can get better rewards, and (helps) us fulfill our mission from the beginning to just help employees.”<br><br>Check out the platform by visiting <a href="https://nectarhr.com/">http://nectarhr.com</a>.<br><br>“(We want to) get this into as many hands as possible,” Larson said.`) }} ...

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7 Misconceptions about Human Resources

{{ excerpt(`<span style='font-size:16px;font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif;'>Many people have watched Toby Flenderson bumble around on NBC’s the Office over the years. I know that anytime I heard “HR” that was my first reaction. Prior to stepping into the HR world, I had many misconceptions about what Human Resources Representatives did and didn’t do. Here are seven misconceptions about HR:</span><div data-empty="true"><br></div><span style='font-size:16px;font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif;'><strong>#1 HR Departments deal with daily problems, they don’t focus on strategy</strong></span><div data-empty="true"><br></div><span style='font-size:16px;font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif;'>This could not be more wrong. A balanced HR team focuses on being the bridge between employees and the organization. There is a lot of strategy that goes in to that. The lattest predicted trends of Human Resources for 2020 point to more and more HR teams having regular strategy meetings with CEO’s and CFO’s. HR teams are responsible to creating great company culture and maximizing employee retention.</span><div data-empty="true"><strong><br></strong></div><span style='font-size:16px;font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif;'><strong>#2 HR Managers just hire people</strong></span><div data-empty="true"><br></div><span style='font-size:16px;font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif;'>We can call this one a half truth. HR Managers maintain the entire lifecycle of an employee. Just like Sales nurture and grow leads, HR teams are responsible for nurturing and helping employees reach their maximum potential. Nurturing employees can be the difference between an amazing team and a mediocre one. HR Managers are also responsible for helping employees reach their professional goals. Employee Engagement might be the most important part of HR.</span><div data-empty="true"><br></div><span style='font-size:16px;font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif;'><strong>#3 HR is responsible for training employees</strong></span><div data-empty="true"><br></div><span style='font-size:16px;font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif;'>This is a tricky one. The answer is yes and no. Some companies have a dedicated talent development team. Others have managers handle the employee training. What is true is that HR is responsible for onboarding employees and creating the ideal employee experience from the beginning. The focus falls on HR reps to make sure each employee is a good fit for company culture.</span><div data-empty="true"><br></div><span style='font-size:16px;font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif;'><strong>#4 All HR Departments are the same</strong></span><div data-empty="true"><br></div><span style='font-size:16px;font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif;'>Ridiculous! While we all laugh at the way Michael Scott dominates Toby that is not accurate. Every HR department and team is going to have different initiatives and be structured differently. Each is a unique group of people working closely with employees and management to create the ultimate employee experience. Employee Engagement matters, and that can come in many different ways. Each HR Manager is going to have a different vision and take different actions to implement the goals that they have set.</span><div data-empty="true"><br></div><span style='font-size:16px;font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif;'><strong>#5 HR can do what they want</strong></span><br><span style='font-size:16px;font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif;'><br>WRONG! Human Resources is a very tricky job. EVERYTHING has to be done according to legal guidelines and rules. HR Binders are no joke and to avoid legal issues HR Teams have to dot every “I” and cross every “t”. There is a lot of paperwork that goes with HR and they are heroes for filling it all out.</span><div data-empty="true"><br></div><span style='font-size:16px;font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif;'><strong>#6 HR Managers are on an island</strong></span><div data-empty="true"><br></div><span style='font-size:16px;font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif;'>HR Managers should not be left alone, instead they should have a part in the decision making. HR managers need to be aware of all of the goals and decisions made so that they can work effectively within those boundaries. HR managers can play a key role in promoting employee engagement, reducing turnover, and increasing organizational growth.</span><div data-empty="true"><br></div><span style='font-size:16px;font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif;'><strong>#7 HR Managers don’t need help</strong></span><div data-empty="true"><br></div><span style='font-size:16px;font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif;'>HR Managers are very talented people, but they can’t do it all alone. Finding the right resources is key. Most companies have at the very least an HRIS system that helps them track employee information such as W2 forms, other key legal information, and personal information for contacts and daily work information.</span><div data-empty="true"><br></div><span style='font-size:16px;font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif;'>Quick Review:</span><div data-empty="true"><br></div><span style='font-size:16px;font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif;'>HR Teams are an integral part of a company. They need to work hand in hand with both management and employees to create the appropriate workplace culture. HR teams also need access to the right resources. Some of the best resources and programs to help increase employee engagement are:</span><div data-empty="true"><br></div><ul style='font-size:16px;font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif;'><li>Perks Programs</li><li>Employee Rewards and Benefits</li><li>Peer Recognition&nbsp;</li><li>Employee Feedback</li></ul><span style='font-size:16px;font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif;'>These four pillars are helpful for HR Teams because they are great tools for increasing employee retention and taking pressure off of themselves. Employee Feedback tools help HR Teams understand what is going on with individual employees and easily identify when and where there might be problems within the company culture. By identifying these problems quickly, it is possible to take action early and smooth over any issues. Employee Perks are a great way to help employees feel cared for. This can come in the form of discounts on food, activities, or other products. Peer Recognition is the number one way to make employees feel appreciated at their jobs. Peer to peer recognition is one of the up and coming trends of 2020. Allowing employees to recognize and reward their fellow employees while promoting company goals and values. Employee Rewards come in the form of swag or often time gift cards and help management demonstrate their appreciation to all their employees.</span><br><br><span style='font-size:16px;font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif;'>Nectar HR</span><br><br><span style='font-size:16px;font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif;'>Nectar HR is the first 100% free employee engagement platform providing perks, gift card rewards, feedback, and peer to peer recognition programs in one place. Sign-up at <a href="http://www.nectarhr.com">www.nectarhr.com</a> for free and onboard your whole team in 10 minutes.</span>`) }} ...

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How does lack of Employee Recognition affect employees at work?

{{ excerpt(`<strong><span style='font-size:16px;font-family:"Times New Roman",serif;'>An Absolute Must: Employee Recognition&nbsp;</span></strong><br><span style='font-size:16px;font-family:"Times New Roman",serif;'>To have a successful business, there are many components that lead to having a solid culture. Now, while it is important to have a model and an organizational structure designed for productivity, it is very uncommon for a majority of its manpower to feel appreciated. So, you can have a great idea, feel as though you have all of the answers, and try very hard to get the most out of your employees only to realize that you, being a part of management, have yet to maximize the potential working with you. At the end of the day, you know that more production would make a tremendous difference in your leadership style and in the overall productivity in your department or organization as a whole.<br><br>It would be wise for managers to learn to utilize tools that would increase morale and output simultaneously. It is not unusual for companies to begin to invest in research and development while spending an exorbitant amount of their budgets on wasteful nonsense. Some leaders bring in gurus and teams who guarantee change and improvements with their large binders and useless manuals full of saying the same thing in a different way while not recognizing that there is not one smidge of improvement in morale. <br><br>Most leaders are prematurely wasting large amounts of money on how to improve the culture when a simple solution is staring you right in the face. The simple solution being employee recognition. Employee recognition is a moment in time, planned or otherwise, formally or informally expressing appreciation for a team or individual’s success or behavior that promotes the ideals and values of the company’s that exceeds the norm. Accepting this, we must assess why a company with a quality employee recognition program whose management is serious about recognizing its employees is more productive and efficient than those who restrict their appreciation and whose employees feel as though recognition is nonexistent. <br><br>While it is important to establish a highly respected workplace culture, as a priority, any respected leader must establish peer to peer recognition programs. Surprisingly, around 75% of organizations do have in place some sort of recognition program despite having around 58% of their employees thinking that their respective companies have one in place (Bersin by Deloitte, The State of Employee Recognition, 2012). Overall, it has been confirmed through research that 41% of organizations who utilize peer-to-peer recognition have seen significant increases in customer satisfaction. (SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey, 2012).<br><br>Generally speaking, managers have to determine how to track an individual’s performance as to how it is in alignment with corporate objectives. According to the Aberdeen Group, if you can in effectively chart useful interactions and recognition, this would in turn reconcile employee efforts and business objectives that will in turn improve the overall productivity and efficiency of the business. Statistics show of all companies deemed Best-in-Class, 43% have access to measurables on efforts to recognize its employees, compared to 18% of all others.” (Aberdeen Group, The Power of Employee Recognition, 2013). This shows how needed peer recognition programs are and shows how effective they can be.<br><br>Organizations with tactical peer recognition programs reveal around 28.6% lower frustration than those without these programs in place. (SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey, 2012). To take it a step further, anybody with good sense would love to be happy at work all of the time. When you have employees that are looking forward to coming to work and feeling appreciated at the same time, the workplace culture is solid! Your peer influencers will keep the workplace culture intact, and the followers will typically yield a minimal amount of unhappiness.<br><br>In reference to budgets, when a company prioritizes peer recognition and allocates 1% or more of overall payroll on employee recognition, 85% of companies see a positive impact on employee engagement (SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey, 2012). This statistic is dumbfounding! If this is all that it takes, I am in shock that not more companies make employee recognition a priority. As we have discussed, there are about 75% of companies that have such programs, but you have to wonder why so few employees are aware of the programs. This is very simple to do, and any organization would be negligent to not designate such a small amount of revenue to the workforce especially when it will have such a tremendous impact on the bottom line, not to mention employee morale. <br><br>According to Psychometrics, when using employee feedback tools and asking what could employers do more of to improve employee interaction, 58% responded by giving recognition (A Study of Employee Engagement in the Canadian Workplace 2010). We must acknowledge that being receptive to employee feedback is one the most effective tools in improving overall comradery in any organization. Employees really want to not only feel appreciated, but the acknowledgement of their superiors viewing them as vital does wonders. Employees want to work, but they want to work where they can do more than mere labor. Thy want to contribute in the processes of how they get their jobs done. By recognizing the influencers and supporting the less boisterous, and by that I mean to find a way to recognize your silent workers, you, as a manger will be viewed in high honor by your entire team. <br><br>What works most often are employee perks. Imagine if you were to provide occasional food &amp; snacks; commuter benefits assisting with their transportation; or work-from-home days. Research done by EBRI says that 78% of respondents confirmed that employee benefits are either very or extremely important when deciding to accept a job offer. In fact, it is suggested that a 15% improvement in peer to peer interaction can result in a 2% increase in the overall profit margin. This statistic falls right in line with employee feedback. If you as a manger ever experience a 2% increase in overall profit, it would be imperative to study the impact of employee feedback and share this information and how it impacted the bottom line. <br><br>Hence, agreeing to have 24-hour employee feedback tools available allows your employees to feel that their ideas are welcome to where it will give the feeling of a true partnership. The feeling of being a partner would make anybody take personal ownership and pride in their job. The highly successful managers want this type of employee on their teams and to be included in their organizations. <br><br><strong>Employee Feedback Tools</strong></span><br><span style='font-size:16px;font-family:"Times New Roman",serif;'>Nectar HR has rolled out an intuitive employee feedback system that HR reps can set up in 10 minutes for the entire year. Pulse surveys can send out quick feedback and measure employee metrics quickly as well as employee Net Promotor Scores.<br><br><br><br>Peer Recognition programs are in the best interest of management as in trying to get the most out of their employees. In addition, employee perks definitely help in not only in the hiring decisions of some but also in the retention of others. Peer to peer recognition programs can vary by department, depending on the size of the organization, however, the important point is to have recognition as a mainstay in and across the board. The results show that peer recognition can go a long way. Recognize your employees if you want real results in your business.<br><br><br><br><br></span>`) }} ...

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