1. Super Superlatives
Everyone remembers the yearbook page that identifies students as being the “most likely to…” or the “best…” Pictures of these kids would show them in poses or with costumes and props identifying their special skill.
This program recognizes not just the employee but also the employee’s special skill. And the more specific your recognition, the better results you’ll have. “Employee of the Month” programs are something you do when you can think of nothing else. Super Superlatives is a newer form of this program that assesses the specific qualities or skills your staff.
STEP ONE: Come up with a list of skills expected for your business. Here are some general examples, but you are encouraged to be as specific as possible, choosing skills relevant to your particular industry and business.
Guest service provider
STEP TWO: Write down several qualities that make your business a better place to work. Be creative.
Making coffee in the morning
Filling the copy paper
Sense of humor
STEP THREE: Choose the best five from each category and how often you will be awarding your superlatives. It could be quarterly or even monthly. Monthly can be difficult to maintain and sustain. If you do it quarterly, you can hold a staff meeting to announce the winners and take photographs, as described below in Step Five.
STEP FOUR: Who will determine your superlatives? You could assign leadership, or you could make it a peer-based committee, changing the committee membership for each time you award the superlatives. One excellent method is to assign the prior superlative winners as committee members.
STEP FOUR: To announce the superlatives, do what the yearbooks did. Use the company newsletter to post photos of those Most Likelys or Bests. You could even use props if you’d like. This adds whimsy and humor to the recognition program.
2. Thank -You White Board
As managers, we are always trying to stay under budget and increase revenue. This program is peer-based and a simple way to recognize good work. Moreover, your budget will feel nothing but a pinprick.
STEP ONE: Purchase a big white board and colorful markers. Hang this white board in a visible and reachable area.
STEP TWO: Write “Thank You” at the top of the board. At this point, you could officially communicate your purpose to employees, which is to recognize each other for good work. Or, depending on your business, you could allow them to simply start writing on their own. If management adds one or two comments, it will encourage others to do the same. Here are some examples of real comments:
“Beth came in early to make sure new hires didn’t have to wait in the hall.”
“Victor was able to calm a very disgruntled guest on a busy Saturday night.”
“Seth brought in a healthy tray of fruit for Tuesday’s staff meeting.”
STEP THREE: Take a picture once a week then erase and start over. Frame these photos or pin up on a cork board next to the white board.
3. Lunch with the Big Cheese of Your Choice
Career development is key in keeping star players employees motivated. This program assists your best employees in meeting their career goals by awarding them the opportunity to have lunch with the Big Cheese of their choice.
STEP ONE: Announce the program and its purpose. The idea is that they will choose to dine with a certain leader so as to understand more about that person’s expertise. It is not to simply be seen with leadership or have a decision-maker to complain to; it is to further one’s career and learn about the steps one needs to take to reach certain career goals.
STEP ONE: Choose something measurable (for example: performance reviews/ evaluations) to determine who’s given this opportunity.
STEP TWO: Allow the employee to choose any leader in the company to lunch with based on their own career goals. For instance, perhaps they are interested in finance but aren’t quite sure how to go about furthering their careers. They might want to lunch with the CFO. All leaders should be encouraged to participate, as this is an excellent opportunity for them to connect with staff.
4. Surprise Party
Recognition for the individual and his or her merits is crucial for incentive programs. However, the occasional group recognition after a successful team effort can strengthen bonds between employees and assists in creating a culture of goodwill and a clear esprit de corps. This incentive is not necessarily a “party.” It’s a surprise celebration for a job well done.
STEP ONE: Leaders wait until everyone has left for the day and then decorate the office with banners / streamers / balloons, etc. Also, goodie bags are distributed.
STEP TWO: Leaders should come in early, and as people come into the office, they can shout “surprise.”
STEP THREE: A brief meeting is held during which the leader thanks the team for their efforts and lets them know how much they are appreciated. You can have bagels, donuts, fruit, or a breakfast spread.
5. Bean Counter
This is a simple, fun, and competitive incentive program invented to meet a specific goal or to improve an area of weakness.
STEP ONE: Determine your goal based in your industry and needs. Some examples include:
- Improving customer service
- Selling more of a certain product
- Improving profits in a certain area
- Speeding up response times
STEP TWO: To everyone involved in meeting this goal or improvement, distribute equal sized jars. They can be in one place or set on each participant’s desk.
STEP THREE: For every goal met, drop a bean in the jar. This could be a jelly bean or a pinto bean. Bear in mind, some employees might be tempted to eat the jelly beans! For example, if you have decided you need to sell more of something, drop a bean in the jar of the person who made the deal.
STEP FOUR: Here are several variations for rewards.
- The person who fills their jar first gets a cash reward or a day off with pay
- You could vary the number of beans based on your goal. For instance, employees may get 10 beans for selling such and such but 20 for selling something else.
- You could have ½ jar prizes, too, or even a bean exchange program.
- You could not only reward the person who filled their jar first; you could then guess the number of beans in the jar and give a prize to the employee who guessed closest.
6. Potluck for Profit
Potlucks are popular for special occasions, but you can use them as an incentive, too. This is a great way to build team camaraderie and give employees something to look forward to.
STEP ONE: Designate a slow day to hold your PFP.
STEP TWO: Invite participating employees to cook their best dish and bring it in anonymously. This keeps employees from bringing the standard chips and dip or soda. And employees who are maximizing performance in the kitchen can bring this same winning attitude toward their performance at work.
STEP THREE: Participating employees are to taste all dishes and vote on their three favorites, in order of 1 to 3. This vote could be done anonymously or on a white board to make it easier. Even e-mail works for the voting process!
STEP FOUR: Determine the top three dishes overall and reward these employees with a reward—be it cash, a company product, a pre-determined prize, or a paid day off.