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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ask the Professor: Issue # 2

Incentive and Recognition Strategies Based on Facts and Research

Dr. Brooks Mitchell is a professor of management at The University of Wyoming. and the founder of Snowfly Incentives. He has written and published extensively in the field of human motivation in the workplace.

Question for the Professor: Dr. Mitchell, I manage a 100-seat call center and have a monthly drawing for a $1000 flat screen TV. Eligibility is restricted to those employees who meet their monthly performance standards and have perfect monthly attendance. Is this a good idea?

Dr. Mitchell's Response: There are some problems with this type of incentive; I will discuss one of them.

Participating employees will not see a clear relationship between their performances and a positive outcome.Even if an agent meets the eligibility requirements for the drawing, the chance of winning the TV (receiving positive reinforcement for their achievement) is remote.

Consider the following actual comment from an employee job satisfaction survey. "The monthly drawings are a joke. I have been here two years and have never won anything." Statements such as this, which borderline on resentment, support past research which reveals that only one-third of performance incentive programs actually meet or surpass targeted objectives

A far better approach is to reward all program participants with points, e.g., dollar value for incremental goal accomplishments. This process would allow you to recognize your agents on a daily basis and will result in a much higher percentage of your workforce achieving monthly perfect attendance and established performance goals.

I am aware that these types of drawing are easy to administer. But, other than exhilaration for the single winner and momentary interest for the remainder of your agents, I don’t think you are getting any significant return on your $1000.