Incentives that Work

I was reading a post by Wayne at Business Performance Coaching and I really liked two comments he made:

  1. Incentives are the lightening bolts that fire your team and business building activities into effective action.
  2. For incentives to work, they have to be simple, understandable, and tied to performance.

Everyone likes to be rewarded for a job well done. Giving your agents an incentive for doing well on their Quality Assessment (QA) or other performance management metrics can add some fun to the process. It also adds a little challenge and a motivation to perform well. The question that plagues most managers is what incentive is going to motivate my team?

Working with call centers around the country, I’m always intrigued at the incentives that work…and sometimes the ones that don’t.

Here are some examples:

  • Incentives with little or no cost. Premiere parking spots go over well (especially in the cold of winter), as do “jeans day” for those centers with business casual dress codes. One team got to have lunch in the corporate board room. I’m always surprised how well simple award certificates go over with some agents. A traveling trophy can be a lot of fun because it creates a little fun competition and comes with bragging rights. One group of willing supervisors allowed top performers to throw pies at them during the lunch hour.
  • Incentives with moderate cost. Gift certificates for lunch, movie tickets, CDs, DVDs can be real winners. Some centers will reward top performers with lunch out with the call center manager or another executive. I watched one executive hand out, in cash, shares of the money the company had saved in insurance by making safety and wellness goals (that went over really well!).
  • Big ticket incentives. One company we work with went this route and it created quite a buzz in the ranks. Agents who reached a challenging QA performance goal got their name put in a hat. If they made the goal at the mid-year review their name went in and then they had another chance at the year-end review (so some agents had their name in the hat twice). At the end of the year one name was pulled from the hat and the winner took home an expensive riding lawn tractor.

What about you? What incentives have motivated your team members? What incentives have bombed? Please post a comment and share your own experience.

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  5 comments for “Incentives that Work

  1. April 28, 2006 at 8:55 pm

    I recently did a post about giving your emplyees more rope, rather than a few dollars.
    http://simplenomics.com/give-your-employees-more-rope-not-money-to-buy-it/

  2. April 29, 2006 at 5:43 am

    Thanks for link, Mike.

  3. November 17, 2006 at 10:03 am

    Thanks for the great post on incenting employees. Like you, I have been to many different contact centers and have seen some great incentive programs.
    One of my favorites creates a buzz about the incentive because of the way that they deliver it: by remote controlled car with a balloon attached. You wouldn’t believe the chatter that would occur as the car went whizzing down the aisles of the contact center, it was great!

  4. November 17, 2006 at 12:49 pm

    Wow, Connie, what a fun idea! Thanks for sharing it. I’m definitely going to mention that one to some of our clients!

  5. Kizzi
    July 26, 2008 at 8:46 am

    Hi, I’m looking for some fun icentives to help motivate my team. Any ideas for games? Thanks

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