How do they work?
Incentive schemes work by encouraging employees to associate excellence with reward. This is achieved when employees consistently see their colleagues (or experience first-hand) being rewarded for delivering excellence in their field (e.g. hitting their targets, achieving top sales, being part of the best performing team, etc.). Over time, this can lead to the development of a more positive workplace ideology which in turn can help to keep individual employees and teams of workers motivated.
What kind of rewards?
Employee rewards can be financial (i.e. cash) or non-financial (vouchers, e-vouchers, consumer goods). Cash rewards are generally discouraged as they can often turn out to have a negative, rather than a positive effect on staff motivation. Consumer goods rewards can be effective although they too have limited effect, especially when they need to be ordered from restricting and sometimes overly-expensive catalogues. Vouchers are generally considered to be the best option for an employee reward scheme as they can be exchanged for a wide range of goods and offer good value for money.
An effective employee reward scheme really can be of great benefit to employees as it can enhance the quality of their working life by making them feel more valued and providing them with a working environment that enjoys high morale.