What’s My Motivation?

When sales are slow, consider offering incentives to keep employees motivated. JCK interviewed Karen Renk, executive director of the Incentive Marketing Association, Naperville, Ill., on the variety and value of incentives:

JCK: What types of incentives exist?

Karen Renk: Open-ended incentives are ones that everyone can achieve, and closed-ended ones allow for a single top-award recipient.

JCK: What do you think about cash incentives?

KR: Many employees may not reveal a “bonus” but they will brag about a prize. This type of excitement may motivate other employees to try harder.

JCK: What types of incentives do you recommend?

KR: For retailers, whatever is appropriate for your staff. Certainly jewelry salespeople’s likes differ from those selling sporting goods. Also, always reinforce your company’s corporate image and goals. For example, if you head a family-owned business, it might not be appropriate to offer liquor as a premium. Alcohol doesn’t reward a person’s family or recognize family values. Offer a prize that says, “I know this accomplishment meant time away from your family.”

JCK: What tips can you offer to novice incentive users?

KR: Keep long- and short-term goals in mind, make goals measurable, outline a budget for the program, and be sure your premium suits your demographics. Also, make sure your rules are carefully structured, clear, and succinct. And consider calling on an incentive marketing consultant. If your program doesn’t work, you could de-motivate employees and lose their respect. Check out www.incentivecentral.org for employer resources.