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Why It’s Best to Blend Recognition and Incentives

Many times we think of recognition and incentives as two separate worlds. Recognition is the “gold star” you get when someone thinks you did a great job, whether that comes with a monetary reward or not. An incentive is the cash, gift card, points, etc. you get when you reach a concrete goal, like a certain dollar amount in sales for the quarter. The best programs incorporate the best of both worlds, and here’s why:

  • Incentives are objective. They give a clear picture of what is expected and what can be earned. (If you close 5 new deals this quarter, you earn $500.) Having a goal in sight, planning a strategy to achieve it, and measuring progress will help employees take control of their own success.
  • Recognition helps people along when they’re lagging in the numbers. Even the best salesperson has a bad quarter every now and then. And some of your most valuable reps might be the most consistent ones who hover closer to the middle of the pack but are never quite on top. Being able to nominate those reps for putting forth impressive efforts in other areas such as customer focus or improvements over last quarter can help keep them engaged when the numbers aren’t going their way.
  • Incentives bring out the competitors: Most incentive programs are found in sales settings. Salespeople are ultra competitive, but they’re not the only ones. A challenging contest can spark up the competitive spirit in other employees around the company. Offer your account services employees incentives to get the highest marks on customer satisfaction surveys, or reward your IT team when they successfully close out all open tickets by a certain date and watch how it affects performance.
  • Recognition helps keep program participation up: Not every company has the budget or the need to run incentive promotions constantly. During those times when you are not sponsoring a contest, recognition is a great way to keep your participants engaged with the program. Peer-to-peer social recognition is a significant contributor toward building a positive company culture—and it’s free! And when you do start another contest you won’t have to start from square one to get everyone to log back in to the site and pay attention.
  • Having both ensures that everyone can participate: Not every employee’s job lends itself to incentives, but anyone can be recognized for doing great work. Blending the two approaches within your program will give everyone the chance to be a part of it.

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