Match the Rewards to the Results Taking the time to align your company's incentives with numerical targets can pay dividends not only for its long-term business goals, but also for each career that you shape.

By Asha Saxena

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You know that a top company is made of top people. And if your people aren't happy, they'll move right along to the next opportunity. According to a recent survey by Right Management, 86 percent of employees surveyed planned to find new jobs this year.

So when it comes to making your employees happy, you need more than just incentives. It's not enough to decide that the carrot is a far better motivator than the stick. You must present your extraordinary people with extraordinary carrots.

Taking the time to align your incentives with numerical targets could pay dividends not only for your long-term business goals but also for each precious career that you shape.

I believe that employees who work toward specific numbers -- figures meaningfully connected to overarching business goals -- are much more likely to feel in control of their performance and motivated to impress.

Here are five steps you can take to match rewards with results:

Related: Do Employees Even Notice You Care?

1. Keep targets visible.

Performance metrics should be in front of your employees at all times. Whether this takes the form of desktop dashboards or a collective one hung up in the office, targets should be one of the first things your employees see when they sit down to work. This way, they'll always be goal-oriented.

2. Clarify incentives and intervals.

As a leader, it's your responsibility to be sure your team understands the incentive system. Be sure that your incentives and tangible rewards are clear.

Avoid rewarding in arbitrary increments or just whenever you remember. Rather, match your incentives with a rhythm that makes sense and supply the reward as soon as your employees achieve their targets.

Related: 3 Online Tools for Supercharging a Company's Culture

3. Create a tie-in with larger goals.

Incentives are much more effective when they're meaningful. Be sure employees know why they're working toward their particular performance targets so they can connect their rewards to the success of your company.

Although you want to connect rewards with target numbers, reminding a team of the holistic and qualitative side of the goals is just as important.

4. Set individual incentives.

One of the major ways that an incentive program can fall flat is by neglecting to treat employees as individuals. Not all your employees will be motivated by money, so learn personal details about them to gauge the incentives they'll value most.

For example, if an employee has a special family event, you can reward her by giving her extra time off to prepare.

5. Meet regularly and celebrate.

Having regular meetings is a great way to check in with employees, ensure that they feel supported, ask questions about their targets and catch up over coffee and doughnuts.

My company, Future Technologies, holds status-review meetings on Fridays where staffers discuss goals for the upcoming week. These meetings also serve to recognize employees who have hit or surpassed their goals.

To give your employees a sense of pride, let them know when their hard work is appreciated. This will motivate other team members with a healthy sense of competition.

Zappos is one company that understands the power of aligning employee incentives. It's known for strong customer service, which the company accomplishes through a 100-point scale called the Happiness Experience Form.

Each agent-to-customer interaction is scored based on various questions about the quality of service. The goal is for agents to make customers feel valued. And if agents collect enough points, Zappos rewards them with incentives.

By providing employees incentives according to performance targets and adapting that system to take each individual into account, you can build a motivated, united team. After all, your company is only as strong as its individuals.

Related: 5 Easy Ways to Keep Top Performers Happy

Wavy Line
Asha Saxena

President and CEO of Aculyst Inc

Asha Saxena is Columbia University Professor and founder of Aculyst Inc. a healthcare big data solutions and advanced analytics services firm


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