Are Incentive Programs just for Sales?
The answer is "no."
But in many organizations, that's exactly how they are perceived. My guess is that the majority of your non-sales employees would tell you that sales teams are treated differently. In fact, one of the smartest marketing people I've worked with used to tell people "the difference between sales and marketing is that we don't get paid commission" (and, by inference, incentives).
I understand why. Incentive programs for sales teams are the easiest to justify in terms of ROI, and there is typically low management resistance to funding a program - it's just part of the package. But it's a shame that a tool that is almost universally accepted as being effective for sales people is just as easily ignored for the rest of the team. The basic concept of a tangible reward for achieving a measurable goal
(above and beyond the expected performance) can be applied to many situations in the work environment.
Here are five suggestions to power your performance with a non-sales incentive program:
- Cost Reductions. One organization identified printer costs (paper and toner) as a significant expense that could be tamed. They set a group target of 20% reduction in the amount of paper consumed over three months. If they hit the target, half of the savings would be spent on an employee party.
- Process Improvements. You probably have a suggestion box, hidden in a corner, often forgotten about. Replace it with an online suggestion portal (Starbucks has a popular one for their customers), and offer rewards or points for each approved entry; and additional points if the idea is implemented.
- Go Green. Pick your favorite eco-friendly initiative - recycling K-Cups, using refillable water bottles, cycling to work - and reward the chosen activity, either as a group or by individual.
- Wellness. It seems like everyone has a Fitbit® on their wrist, and a fitness app on their phone. Wellness is more visible than ever. Set simple goals - get a physical, give blood, walk a million steps - with merchandise or gift cards as the reward. Enter a team 5K run, or hold a "biggest loser" contest in your group (voluntary participation, of course!). And the added bonus is the boost in employee engagement as everyone goes after a shared goal.
- Customer Service. Reward your CS team for significant improvements in measurable areas, such as customer satisfaction scores. Just be sure to use a metric that improves the customer experience, not just improves efficiency. (Avoid rewarding "number of calls per hour, average length of call" etc, to ensure your program drives the right behavior).
These are just a few possibilities, but you get the idea. Anywhere that you can find a measurable improvement, ask yourself if the impact is significant enough to justify an incentive. Not only will you boost performance, you'll make the non-sales team feel a little more appreciated.