Change the Way Your Employees Earn Their Bonus

Finding the right performance-based reward program for your employees can do much more for productivity than a year-end bonus
Change the Way Your Employees Earn Their Bonus

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Some people are highly self-motivated individuals who feel a job done well is its own reward. But even the hardest worker who genuinely enjoys his or her job may need a little extra push now and then to keep service standards high.

We recently mentioned some free or low-cost ways to show your team some appreciation and keep them motivated at the end of the busy season. These are great ideas, but let’s be honest: For a lot of people, nothing is more motivating than cash.

The office staff for the Workbox LLC restroom division, Potty-All, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, records information for every work order, including hours worked, units serviced, miles driven, time between service calls, and compliments from customers. This data is used to grade drivers.

Once a year, the top-scoring driver from each division wins an award. The company also names a rookie driver of the year and an overall driver of the year, picked from the three divisional winners.

“They receive a cash bonus that comes from a percentage of our net profit that we set aside,” Padial explains. “In addition, every employee receives $100 for every year of service. And we try to recognize other deserving employees with cash bonuses, too.” 

Smart bonus plans give employees ongoing information about how well they’re performing. The key to making any such program work effectively is to target specific, measurable goals and communicate clearly and regularly about what it takes to reach them. 

For instance, you could say that for every 5 percent increase in profitability you’ll reward each employee $1,000. You also need to clearly explain what factors and forces under the employees’ control will help accomplish that. 

Then, throughout the year you can provide regular feedback and reinforce the link between that progress and the incentive reward.

You also need to pick goals that are legitimately within the control of employees. For example, if your work requires good weather, you’re not going to reward people for productivity gains that can be tied only to the fact that you’ve had a month of warm, sunny days.

There are many ways to reward employees for quality work. What works for one company might not work across the board, but you can get some ideas from your peers. And don’t be afraid to get creative and try a new motivating tactic. These four tips come from members of the “Portable Toilet Network” Facebook group.

1. A small cash award to drivers who bring in new business. Give your technicians promotional cards they can hand out to potential customers, and pay a small bonus when someone books a rental. This is a win-win because more customers mean more work for you technicians.

2. A bonus for a complaint-free quarter. This one might be a little tough to manage. Some people will always complain, some customers may notice little problems and not actually tell you about it, and some issues are completely out of the driver’s hands. But a technician who is doing a good job and doesn’t hear any complaints for several months may be deserving of some recognition.

3. Make a schedule change. Allowing some flexibility in work hours can be a simple way to make life easier for your employees. Some people would much prefer four 10-hour workdays. During the busy season, that fifth day will probably have to be scheduled as overtime, but often employees welcome the change to make extra money.

4. A “random” bonus to reward a great employee. It’s the timing that can appear random, not the reason for the reward. If you notice someone who went above and beyond on the job this week, a shout-out paired with a nice cash bonus will make the person feel appreciated and can do much more to motivate employees than a scheduled bonus.

A year-end bonus, while appreciated, doesn’t have a long-term effect on the employee’s morale, especially if the person is already dissatisfied with his or her compensation. A performance-related reward given in a timely manner does much more than a yearly bonus.


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