“You are trying to trick us into working harder”

That was a comment by an employee who had just been introduced to a company incentive….LOL.
This happened many years ago , off-shore, to an old pal of mine …but it still makes me laugh.

I guess they were right!

Working harder, working smarter, working more efficiently, working to make your company better, faster or environmental…..tomato, tomaaaahto!

Shouldn’t you be rewarded for your efforts?
Some people would say that working for pay is enough…..what do you think?
To not consider incentives….wow, boring and short sighted! They really do work.

Company incentives are rewards for a job well done or beating your own productivity from the year before or beating out everyone else in some way. They can be designed for every situation or business scenario. Incentives can be designed to reward sales teams, individuals or whole companies. They can be expensive or inexpensive. They can create fun & interest .. and laughs.

For years I tried to get my staff to buy into medical plans, insurance plans…dental, prescriptions, whatever blah blah blah benefits…. mature thinking don’t you think?

The only way Traces Staff would take benefits was if the company paid for them in full.
Traces wasn’t going to pay in full if …

1) there was no commitment by the employees at all
2) it generated no good will or excitement.

Then it came to me in a flash….stop trying to give them what (I thought) they needed
…. and give them what they want! 

So simple.

I was trying to get my employees to be more environmental, create less waste, conserve energy… being a good corporate citizen means you respect the environmental laws & embrace conservation.

Reducing waste. Sticking their hands in the garbage to retrieve dropped scissors, use less tape, re-use, reduce, you know the drill…. stuff adults should do…. but don’t always do.

I need Staff to keep their eye on the ball… focus & be results oriented.
(I did get some biz coaching about 15 years ago … Bob taught me all these big words… LOL. Best thing I ever did for my biz …. another blog, another time)
When the Canadian government changed the laws, some years back…..you could give employees $500 in gifts (no cash) …tax free.
I pondered ….what do people really want? What would I want? What do I want? How can we take advantage of this tax reprieve?

I wanted to give, to make this fun but also, I needed  to get results.

I knew what I wanted Traces Staff to do….I just didn’t know how to get them to really buy into environmental thinking….not just lip service but real & constant environmental efforts.
I needed them to work smart & efficiently all the time.

What do people really want?

Well…. I guessed that most people would like a little adventure (at least that is what I would like …LOL) …& Traces Trip Incentive was born.

Much excitement was generated by this idea… Traces Staff were very invested in making these trips happen…and they still are to this day.

Traces Trip Incentive rewards the whole staff…it is designed to be a team building & team strengthening.
Everybody goes or nobody goes. Including me! Way fun to organize! Don’t you love having something to look forward to?

At the same time, I implemented environmental initiatives…. reduce, re-use, re-cycle….save money & help the environment. Implementing the Trip Incentive in tandem with new conservation efforts got us the results we wanted! Yeah for me!

By turning down the heat EVERY night alone , we saved at least 5% on hydro in  year. And that is only one of a dozen cost saving ways conservation works. Staff dug in and worked hard…they also “culled the herd” &”rail-roaded”  poor performers out of Traces. (I didn’t see that one coming at all).

My Dad Murray, an old school entrepreneur,  used to say “sometimes you can save money easier than make money” … I think he was right!

I map out our specific reachable goals early in the year … and use a virtual thermometer to show my co-workers progress month by month. 2011 marks our 9th year….and believe you me…very difficult to reach with the economic down-turn.

Traces staff had to work very hard to reach their goals these past couple years.

Reachable goals are important…I think that unreachable goals really don’t fool anyone … they are a transparent grab for the impossible & obviously unobtainable, which makes for a crappy incentive.

I also offer profit sharing, but in all honesty, it costs me more, but has less excitement attached to it.
I think Staff are excited for the first 10 minutes & then realize they have to do the adult thing, buy new snow tires or pay off a student loan, buy Holiday gifts…..or some very reasonable, grown-up thing.

So…yes my staff work hard for their Trip Incentive & yes, I trick them into working harder!… in fact I almost consider it a neutral thing…they work hard enough to pay for their own trip….good enough for me!

Traces Staff in Madrid 2009

Traces Staff Trip Incentives:  Halifax 2003, Dominican Republic 2004, San Francisco 2005, Miami Cruise : Keys & Cozumel 2006, Albufeira Portugal 2007, New Orleans 2008, Benalmedina Spain 2009, Cruise: St Maarten, St. Lucia & St. Kitts 2010… waiting for Jamaica 2011. Can’t wait!

We even have Fiesta Day….just a day to celebrate going on our trip…. dink the dog & have fun playing games. Staff love to compete with each other for prizes. Traces Staff call Fiesta Day “the funnest day of the year!” Just another small incentive to create teamwork, good vibes and good times!

I would be happy to address your comments or thoughts …. bring it on!

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