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What About Incentives?

Clint Maun, CSP

“...bosses need to be aware that their staff respond better and therefore work harder when they feel that they are valued and respected as employees.
Successful businesses are not just about good pay. Creating a happy and Productive working environment is, I believe, far more important.”
- Graham Povey, Managing Director of Capital Incentives

Keys to Using Incentives

Incentives work best when the people involved have input in developing their incentive program. We say, “The people closest to the problem are the people closest to its solution.” It is important that fun be a key component in whatever program is created. Money is important, but usually its importance is 5th or 6th below “I make a difference in my job,” “My input is valuable,” “I enjoy the people I care for,” “I enjoy the people I work with,” or “I have fun working here.”

Prior to developing an incentive program, a team needs to perform an assessment of what it is that needs changing. This should be documented using actual data identifying the problem(s). Second, the team will establish target goals for improvement. Third, the team will develop an action plan for reaching the targets. Finally, the team will measure performance to the targets. At that point, if the targets are met, the participants will receive their awards, trophies, and accolades.

It is important to keep incentive programs from becoming stale or unobtainable. To avoid this, vary the incentives and change the programs periodically. Also, the targets should be aggressive, yet realistically achievable. Rotating new people on the incentives teams can be a good way to get fresh ideas.

We recommend you read Clint’s article Training and Retention of Health Care Workers. This article talks about establishing a Super Team to improve retention issues in a facility. By creating a team to work on incentives, you can determine what the staff actually is interested in as incentives. Be certain your group has specific performance targets for improvement that are tied to the rewards they’ll receive for successful accomplishments.


Quoting from Clint’s article, Solutions That Work for Finding and Keeping Top Dietary Staff:

“It is important for organizations to celebrate their quality employees with recognition events and involvement. Give them actual data as to what
makes them good employees, not subjective opinions, but actual, real-world information about why they are good and why they have been chosen to be part of this celebration. Then you can tell them, ‘I don’t say this often enough to you who are good employees, but I do mean it. You are great and I appreciate the quality work you do every day.’”

Other Incentive Ideas

  • If performance targets are met, encourage the department head, nursing director, unit manager, administrator, CEO, or Chairman of the Board to do something ridiculous (e.g., shave head, grow beards, dye hair, act as host for a pizza party, dress up in costumes, etc.)
  • Staff can dress one day in something other than their usual attire
  • Quickie Rewards (relatively inexpensive) for performance (can of pop, 12-pack of pop, candy bar, muffins, movie passes, etc.)
  • Button and badges, or trophies that proclaim a team’s success - these can be made out of materials gathered at garage sales and assembled into humorous trophies that relate to a team’s theme or targets
  • Lunch with leader of your organization
  • Create a Wall of Fame containing employee photographs and descriptions of the performance issue that put them on the Wall of Fame. Let this wall grow until the entire facility is full of super-performers
  • Anything that is fun or funny that doesn’t make fun of co-workers (e.g., Skits and talent shows, parades through the facility showing off the new trophy a team earned, etc.)