Designing an Employee Motivation Program

Designing an employee motivation program requires some creativity and an understanding of the people who work for you. Each employee will find different types of rewards worthwhile, so the challenge lies in coming up with flexible and cost-effective methods of keeping everyone engaged in their work. The optimal program will become a workplace culture, not just a list of rewards for expected behaviors.

Start with Your Goals
The best starting point is to define what your specific goals are and how success will be measured. These need to be outlined at the corporate, department and individual levels. Meet with your management team to make sure the list is complete and to target specific problem areas. You must be very specific; each component of your employee motivation program must be aligned with all of your goals.

Talk to Your Team
An employee motivation program will be most successful if your employees participate in its development. Employees know best what will motivate them to achieve your desired changes in behavior. Ask each person to provide a list of at least five things that would motivate her to achieve the goals you've outlined. Give them some ideas to start with that don't involve pay raises, such as lunch with the CEO, car washes or an ice cream social. This will help reinforce that pay raises and bonuses are not going to be the only rewards available. Let them know that all ideas are welcome, even the funny ones.

You also need to know what barriers they feel are preventing them from successfully achieving each of your goals. If you can help to remove these obstacles, you'll improve motivation without rewards, letting you focus your rewards program on other areas.

Once you have the individual lists, compile and distribute them. Then hold a brainstorming session with your team to expand on those lists and invite new ideas. Quite often employees from another department will have great ideas for other areas of the business.

Make sure your employee motivation program includes everyone. It is easy to design incentives for sales personnel, but you need everyone to buy into the program and take ownership, including accounting and the receptionist.

Don't forget the rules of brainstorming. Every idea is valuable and gets included on the list of ideas. Even the most outlandish idea can lead to the perfect solution. There should be no discussion during the brainstorming about what it will cost, who will have to make it happen or how it can be done. Those steps come later in the process and will prevent creative thinking and open expression during brainstorming.

Putting the Plan Together
Once you have gathered everyone's input, you can design your employee motivation rewards program. Make sure that it's fair for everyone and aligned with corporate goals. Aim for employee motivation recognition that is presented frequently and reflects recent successes. Include timelines for measuring success, ways to evaluate effectiveness and a method for revisions to keep everyone excited. You may use some employee ideas from the brainstorming session and save others for later.

Every individual in the company holds the power to contribute to the success or failure of your company. Your employee motivation strategy must communicate that belief to everyone and promote the value of each individual. Make sure that employees know that the plan will evolve as business needs change, so that it keeps pace with new challenges.

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You may not hit upon one employee motivation strategy that works across your company, so you need to be willing to combine employee motivation strategies in order to maximize employee motivation.

Motivation in the workplace is valuable in terms of both revenue and production. You can improve employee motivation quickly and easily by following these five steps.

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