Do Incentives Produce Better Results?
at genesis associates, rewarding employees for their hard work and incentivising them to exceed targets has always been part of our culture. incentives are used in many businesses to inspire their employees and give them something to work towards.
we decided to investigate the real impact of these incentives and whether they improve performance at work and increase profits.
before starting the experiment, we outlined four theories that we wanted to test:
- more profit will be made when incentives are run compared to other un-incentivised periods
- larger incentives are most effective at motivating employees
- individual incentives motivate people more than team targets
- monetary incentives are the most powerful to motivate employees
we decided to look closely at our own employees to measure exactly how these incentives affected their motivation, performance and the company’s overall revenue.
to see whether the type of incentive altered the overall impact on the employees, we introduced small, medium, large and negative incentives over a one year period and carefully tracked the results.
motivation is something unique to every individual, which is why we ran a survey to ask employees their opinion on the incentives and how they feel motivated or improved their performance.
1. incentives increase a company’s overall profits
on average, the medium incentive made around £108,000 a week. the short and longer term incentives brought in slightly less at £84,000 and £83,000 respectively.
when these financial results are combined with the fact that 85% of employees felt more motivated to do their best if an incentive is offered, the correlation between performing well and incentives is clear.
73% of people said the atmosphere in the office when an incentive is running is either good or very good, happiness which will inevitably lead to better work.
2. larger incentives are most effective at motivating employees
85% of employees felt more motivated to do their best when an incentive was offered. however, there was very little to distinguish which incentives were the most motivational. 35% of employees were motivated by big incentives, 31% by medium incentives and 34% by smaller incentives.
what is interesting is that while the largest percentage of employees said they were motivated most by big incentives (35.4%), the medium incentive period was the most profitable, earning £25,000 more a week on average.
on larger incentives such as holidays to las vegas, people like them because it’s “something you’re unlikely to do without an incentive” and these trips are “something to aim and build towards rather than rushing and not focusing on the long term.”
the weekend trip to barcelona was most effective for driving profits and people felt motivated by this because “the shorter timescale means the incentive doesn’t wear off as there’s constant excitement around the office.” as one employee said “the goal is not too far away to lose sight of what you are working towards, but it’s large enough to have a real impact.”
short incentives are fairly common in the sales and recruitment industry and we chose a quick boys vs. girls competition to test its impact. the benefit is that it’s a “quicker reward, creates a good atmosphere and is about improving your personal performance day-to-day.” these shorter incentives involve everyone and “tend to provide a more motivational feeling as they are not running as long.”
negative incentives, such as singing karaoke in front of the office, are a significant factor in motivational levels but with mixed response:
a negative incentive “carries a punishment for not achieving, which means there’s an obvious improvement in kpis, but the quality of the extra work is questionable.” equally, some “don’t really agree with the forfeit part of incentives. an incentive should be there to motivate, not punish.”
3. individual incentives motivate people more than team targets
while some people do prefer individual incentives, a staggering 71% of employees felt more motivated by team incentives.
although individual incentives tend to have “higher rewards” that are based on “your performance as an individual, which benefits the team as a whole” most prefer team incentives. this is because “it’s good to work alongside people who are working to a bigger target to support each other” as “everyone motivates each other.” a big factor in preferring these incentives is that “you aren’t just letting yourself down if you underperform.”
4. monetary incentives are the most powerful to motivate employees
when asked which incentives are most motivational, 40% said money, 29% said a free holiday, 23% said time off, with drinks (2%) and other motivators (6%) being the least popular by a noticeable margin.
given the choice of any incentives, meals out and early finishes were mentioned as a better alternative to longer, weekend breaks. equally, many would prefer “incentives that can be shared with your family, rather than work focused activities.”
98% of employees felt that incentives are good for team building and their company, mentioning it as a direct factor in their happiness at work.
incentives have value for any company as small, medium and large rewards all drove profits and improved performance. at a small cost, these incentives are mutually beneficial because when your employees are motivated to achieve certain targets, they’ll be much happier and efficient at work.
while medium incentives are the most financially effective, companies should aim to provide a variety of short and long term rewards to keep their team motivated throughout.