Sally Carpenter and her husband Bob own a small business, a hardware store franchise, which has been in Bob’s family for 50 years. Sally plans to implement an incentive program with their eight full-time employees and four part-timers. Because margins are tight, Sally has a limited budget. Still she wants to inspire her employees to make an extra effort.
Their employees are like family, returning to visit after they’ve moved away or after they completed college and taken a job elsewhere. Sally thought about how much fun she and Bob had on their 30th anniversary cruise and how much they love the photo book they ordered to showcase their favorite pictures from the cruise, especially of new friends they made.
What if she did up a yearbook of all the employees with special pages for the winners of Carpenter Hardware’s monthly contests? This idea would become a keepsake while simultaneously being inexpensive.
The purpose of any incentive plan or motivational program is to inspire employees to put attention on areas where you want them to focus. Sally chose to run a monthly contest for the following: monthly employee voted most helpful by other employees and management.
Ideal Motivational Plan
The ideal motivational plan is memorable, which means it has an emotional impact. Admittedly, people will remember a major prize, like a cruise or a week for two at a fancy resort. Because these prizes provide special experiences, they are remembered for years. Ironically, though, just giving a cash bonus is rarely remembered much past a week.
The good news for small business owners is that a prize doesn’t have to be expensive to be memorable. Recognition is a strong motivator. Everybody loves to be appreciated. So you can recognize employees for a great job last month by to mounting their framed pictures up on the office wall. Put their names below the picture with the award title and month.
Company “Yearbook” Idea
However, Sally’s idea has the potential to make the awards more memorable than just putting their framed pictures up on the wall. The employees will keep a company yearbook for years to come. There are many places you can find to create photo albums. The hard cover ones make better keepsakes for a nominal additional price.
- Create a yearbook with pictures of each award winning employee
- If you have several awards each month, like for departments, group all the winners for a month on one page
- Have a page or pages to include all of the employees for the year
- Include additional pictures for you company Christmas party or company picnic
- Add comments on memorable events like reaching a sales goal or adding a product line
The pricing is minor considering the lasting benefit. For example, Shutterfly’s pricing is as little as $18 each. For this price, you get to create a 20 page 8″ x 11″ yearbook. While you can search around for other printers, this example uses Shutterfly’s site, http://www.shutterfly.com, because we have used their services for our own books and calendars. Thus, for a total of $252 plus tax and shipping, you will get 14 books.
A token immediate incentive like a gift card for a nice restaurant or movies for two can add to the awards for every monthly winner and also for the annual winners. These short term bonuses keep their attention throughout the year. A year is too long a period to inspire people so use shorter boosters.
While there are lots of incentive programs to motivate employees, a yearbook becomes important to everyone in the company while it continues to recognize the winners for years to come. And that recognition will drive improved performance among those who want to become immortalized in next year’s edition. In fact, order an extra yearbook to show new employees so they will want to make this year’s roster of winners.
More from this contributor:
First Person: Do You Motivate or Inspire Your Sales Team?
First Person: Marginal Utility Value and Motivating Employees
First Person: Structuring a Profit Sharing Plan to Motivate Employees