How to Use Rewards as a Tactic to Motivate the Team

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If someone asked you, "Is your team motivated?" or "Do you do everything you can to motivate and inspire your employees?" could you hand on heart answer with a yes?

Of course, all companies want a motivated and happy workforce, but knowing how to galvanise this motivation is vital. Using a reward system to motivate performance is one of the simplest and most effective tools you can use as a manager or CEO.

Here at Ovation Incentives, we have over 20 years' worth of experience and expertise in this area. We implement and run tailor-made employee recognition platforms for companies of all sizes, with the goal of rewarding employees and boosting motivation. 

How do rewards affect motivation? In this guide, we'll delve deeper into the meaning of motivation and how we can directly link it to employee rewards, providing you with some reward ideas to take on board for your team.  

Why Employee Motivation is Important

It may not always be obvious, but employee motivation is the key to any company's success. The difference between a motivated workforce and an unmotivated one is like night and day. For instance, take one unmotivated and unhappy employee – they do not feel recognised or appreciated in their role. Therefore, their focus and drive to do an excellent job diminishes day by day. They start to make mistakes or even begin to have regular unexplained absences from work. Now multiply this one employee by 100, and you can start to understand the level of impact an unmotivated workforce can have on your business culture and your bottom line.

Having a motivated team means that they are focused, happy, and take pride in their professional success alongside the business's overall success. This can be extremely powerful. Motivated staff members are more committed to going that 'extra mile' and doing the best job they can. They take pride in their work and remain focused on their objectives. Think of your dream employee, are they focused, working efficiently and collaboratively with their colleagues and, in turn, motivating each other as they go?

Employee motivation has wide-ranging advantages that have a long-lasting effect on your business. A motivated workforce means more engaged and satisfied employees, resulting in lower levels of absenteeism, higher retention of staff and lower levels of employee turnover. It's widely known Millennials are likely to stay in a job for a shorter period than their older generations. The concept of a 'job for life' could be a thing of the past. With this in mind, employee motivation strategies are vital to keeping staff turnover as low as possible.

The Incentive Theory of Motivation

We have briefly outlined the effects employee motivation can have on a business. Now let's look at one leading theory of motivation. In behavioural psychology, there are many theories of motivation. Here we will look at Incentive theory. This proposes that humans are motivated by a desire to gain outside reinforcement and will change or adapt their behaviour if they believe it will result in a reward.

It's widely accepted that positive reinforcement of good behaviour or work, and the combination of rewards, is more powerful and effective than punishing unwanted or bad behaviour. Take a puppy, for example; they are very quick to learn that when they show good behaviour, such as sitting down or performing a newly learnt trick, this will end in a tasty treat, a highly desired reward.

Going back to human psychology, we too are driven by both internal and external rewards. If we know we're likely to get a reward, we're more likely to put in more significant effort in our endeavours. In practical terms, this could be studying hard to achieve good results in exams or completing a project for a client ahead of schedule to earn good feedback. Other rewards could include verbal recognition for achievements, a promotion, an end of quarter bonus or even an early finish on a Friday! 

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Rewards for Staff Motivation

The motivations to modify our behaviour can be split into two different types based on the motivator – the reward itself – these are called intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. 

What are intrinsic rewards? 

Intrinsic rewards arise from personal thoughts and feelings. These are desires motivated by internal goals such as interests, a curiosity to gain new knowledge or skills and pride. They are the internal rewards that employees feel from doing their job well, to the best of their ability and feeling like they are a vital member of the team. It is important to note that when someone feels they have achieved an intrinsic reward, this can trigger a positive emotional response.

What are extrinsic rewards? 

Extrinsic rewards arise from external factors or results. These are the desires motivated by external goals with a tangible end reward, such as verbal or written praise, a pay rise, a promotion, an end of year bonus or a gift experience. We modify our behaviour in a particular way as we expect to receive something in return. When used at the right time and in the correct context, companies can use extrinsic rewards to boost motivation around tasks or projects whilst rewarding employees' work which reflects your company's values and needs. Using these types of rewards issued regularly can help keep motivation and morale high in your team.

Employee Rewards Ideas

When starting to think about rewarding your employees, it is crucial to remember that the value of a reward is based on the recipient's values and interests. Of course, your rewards should always be linked back to and centred around your company values. It is also valuable to first ask your team what types of rewards they would like to receive and would work hard for. After all, to successfully motivate your team, you need to understand which rewards would motivate them in the first place. Maintaining and increasing employee motivation can be a key sticking point for many companies; therefore, it's essential to understand that recognising and rewarding your team should become a well-oiled part of your company machine. Rewarding your employees needs to become a habit, as research has shown that regular rewards can improve and maintain performance levels across the year versus the impact of a single end of year bonus.

There are many different types of reward programmes that can be adapted to any type of business or size of team. Here are a few ideas to keep your team motivated:

  • Peer to peer recognition
  • Employee of the month
  • Milestone/Service Anniversaries
  • Verbal or written thank you
  • Gift Vouchers and experiences
  • Additional paid time off

Define Staff Rewards Scheme Objectives

One of the first things to consider is what you would like your rewards programme to achieve? Do you currently have a low staff retention rate, or do you want to encourage team building? Homing in on these objectives will mean that you can implement the right rewards and recognition system for your team to ensure you get the results you crave. 

Ensure Employees Understand How to Earn Rewards

Clearly outline how employees can earn rewards. Highlighting the desired behaviours that will be rewarded ensures that employees understand what is expected of them. 

Make Certain Rewards are Attainable

As a CEO or manager, you will be aware of the company's significant goals and targets. However, breaking these down into smaller daily goals make rewards more achievable for your employees. When employees see rewards as attainable, they are much more likely to strive to earn them and believe they can!

Ensure Rewards are Fair

All rewards must be fair and transparent, and other employees in the company should be able to see the context or reasoning behind it. This also involves other employees in the recognition, encouraging others to strive for their own rewards. 

Link Rewards to Staff Performance

Rewarding your staff instantly, based on their achievement or behaviours, is a vital way to increase the impact of your rewards scheme. If your employees can link their rewards back to a particular project, task, or achievement, they will be more likely to repeat this in the future.

Reward All Levels of Accomplishment

Referring back to those daily goals, employees should feel rewarded for their accomplishments of all sizes. The danger of only rewarding for big achievements could put unnecessary pressure on your employees, in the long-term demotivating them and disengaging them from the rewards programme.

Recognise Teamwork and Cooperation

Encouraging and rewarding teamwork regularly will not only improve collaboration and the team's bond, but it will also encourage group problem solving and ultimately result in a robust and happy team working towards the company goals.

Personalise Employee Rewards

Personalised employee rewards are the best way to increase that bond between management and employees. It shows that you know your employees on a personal level. Basing their reward on a hobby or interest such as tickets to the theatre or a wine subscription voucher demonstrates you have put extra thought into their reward, which will always be well received. Highlighting the fact that you know your employees will have a massive impact on building trust within your company. 

Keep it fresh

Remember to keep your rewards programme new and engaging, for example introducing new rewards to surprise your employees. Check-in with your team regularly with their feedback on the rewards programme, and more importantly, use this feedback to shape future improvements. 

Wrapping up

In this guide, we have outlined why a motivated team matters and the wide-ranging impacts this can have on your business. We have contrasted intrinsic and extrinsic rewards and how implementing a rewards programme and actively rewarding your employees can increase motivation within your team. If you'd like to find out how we can help you with your employee rewards program and help motivate your team, feel free to book a demo today. If you have any questions, please get in touch with one of our experts.