Motivating Employees: Motivating the Rewards-Driven Employee

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Establishing various types of reward systems can be an effective tool for motivating employees. A base salary is motivational only in the sense that it keeps workers showing up -- reward systems provide the pull to excel at the job once they are there.

Like any other motivational tool, not all workers are impressed by rewards. For those that are, it is important to develop a reward system that meets your overall company objectives.

If all or most of your employees are assigned the same basic tasks, such as retail associates in a store, then developing a reward system is easy. Set targets for overall sales (minus refunds) or specific items or even amount per transaction and reward individuals who meet the target.

If everyone meets the goal, it is too low -- you are trying to motivate excellent performance. Retail toy stores are famous for holding battery sale contests among the sales staff -- and you thought the check-out guy was just being helpful!

Keep in mind that people motivated by reward tend to compare their own output, and what they are getting in return, with everyone else. If another worker is less productive but is paid a higher salary or bonus, reward-motivated employees will become less productive.

Some companies try to counter this by discouraging salary disclosure, but, really, have you ever worked anywhere that you didn't have a good idea of what everyone else made? Your best bet as an employer is to set fair salary ranges for all comparable positions and use incentives (rewards) to encourage outputs that go above and beyond the expected.

For any reward systems you put in place, there are a few critical aspects that must be incorporated to be effective. Be sure that each employee's basic job description is well-defined, and set clear objectives regarding what it means to go "above and beyond" the expected level of output. All rewards should be directly tied to the precise behaviors and results you hope to encourage.

Avoid giving across the board bonuses just to be fair. Incentives must reward extra effort and hard work to be useful. Employees who do not meet expectations should not be rewarded at all -- that is, be wary of setting raises and promotions on any basis other than productivity and merit.

Seeing an unproductive member of the staff promoted will dishearten every reward-motivated worker. It is absolutely critical to be fair. Any perception of favoritism or imbalance in the reward system will completely defeat the purpose of implementing it in the first place.

Reward systems are very effective for many workers if handled correctly. Be fair, be consistent, and reward the efforts that will push your business to success.

About the Author-K. MacKillop, a serial entrepreneur, is founder of LaunchX and authors a small business startup blog. The LaunchX System is designed to help entrepreneurs start a business. Visit LaunchX.com to learn more about adding employees to your business startup.

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