Tips to Individualize Rewards and Incentives to Fit Employee Needs

by: Nichole Gunn October 12, 2010

Early this year, Investor’s Business Daily provided essential incentive program advice to organizations’ CEOs, in the form of a memo.

Noting that the smallest to the largest companies are all comprised of individual workers, the article offers 3 key strategies from Susan Cantrell and David Smith, authors of “Workforce of One,” for handling employees as individuals and on a personal level.

1. The first step is to “tailor’ incentives and other work essentials, such as benefits, and schedules to employee needs.

2. This step is “chart it.” The ‘old standard’ rewards and incentive don’t cut if for employees any longer. Also, left blowing in the wind are the standardized performance reviews. “Link performance metrics to both career and company goals.” This allows employees to gauge their progress toward goals with greater accuracy.

3. Here the authors suggest to “bend” schedules as much as possible to cater to the individual employee needs. One possibility is to have different shift times and stagger schedules.


Adding to the list of strategies is Bob Nelson, author of “1001 Ways to Reward Employees.” He recommends to “widen” the incentive program to offer more options. In lieu of money, many companies are offering company perks including rewards consisting of the company’s own products, or free meals.

Nelson also advises to “share it.” A number of businesses afford employees the opportunity to be creative by providing product and money-saving ideas. He explains that in one company if an idea is used the employee earns, “15% of the out-of-pocket savings achieved in the first two years.” He added, “If a suggestion results in a new product, he or she gets 3% of first-year sales."

Three other tips offered are: “make them owners” by offering company stock; “spark” ideas and decision making from all levels of staff; and “build” progressive thinking that will expand existing programs and create new ones.

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