Giving more value to incentive programs

How can I keep employees motivated and engaged in an incentive program over a longer period of time? I have used short-term incentive programs, but will the same rewards work to help my company with long-term growth and improvement?

Answered by Robin Ronayne, gift card marketing manager for Richfield, MN-based Best Buy.

Short-term incentive programs are a positive way for organizations to promote safety regulations or encourage healthy choices. These programs show employees that you value their safety and wellness by choosing to recognize and reward outstanding behavior. Fortunately, long-term incentive programs can borrow principles from short-term programs to encourage a safer workplace and improve overall employee health.

Any incentive program should have specific and attainable goals, a desirable reward for reaching those goals, and consistent reminders of both. In addition, long-term programs should focus on the ongoing results and added benefits of sticking with a program beyond the incentive.

One way to keep participants engaged is to offer a reward that constantly reminds them of their success. It should be an inspiring incentive that is desirable enough to work for and rewarding enough to motivate further improvement. For example, an MP3 player is a tangible reminder of an intangible goal, such as maintaining a healthier lifestyle or promoting a safer workplace.

Incentives also can help enforce safety regulations because they motivate employees to go beyond what is expected to ensure safety. These employees can then serve as role models for exceptional workplace behavior. Highlighting their accomplishments reflects positively on the entire organization.

Consider setting up incentives that increase in value over time to make the program a source of ongoing motivation. By doing so, the goals and the reward for accomplishing them signify reaching a new height rather than reaching the peak. Incentives with increasing value, such as gift cards, can be earned and saved, making each goal part of a larger accomplishment.

Continuing incentives


Long-term incentives work well to promote wellness programs because the goal is to ultimately maintain a healthy lifestyle. An ongoing program can keep employees from falling back on unsafe work behavior or returning to unhealthy habits. Therefore, in safety and wellness programs specifically, a good incentive should significantly and positively influence the recipient. Rewards that help employees connect, share and enhance their lives accentuate the benefits of continuing a health or safety program.

As a program manager, you can contribute to the success of a long-term program by communicating the benefits and incentives in a frequent and supportive manner. Sending reminders, updates and messages of support make a wellness or safety program more personal and, therefore, more appealing to participants.

Another way to attract participants is offering incentives that appeal to all employees. Frequently reminding and offering inspiring incentives reinforces the long-term benefits of better health, longer life and a closer connection to your company.

Finally, when choosing an incentive, keep it simple for everyone involved. A stress-free program with a focus on your employees is easy to participate in and easy to manage. Offering the right incentives can generate the results you want – whether that means a healthier workforce, a safer workplace, or a more supportive and engaged company culture.


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