Rewards and Incentives Can Improve Poor Employee PerformanceEvery workplace experiences poor employee performance at one time or another. You may have a stable of high-functioning workers, but it seems there’s always one or two who constantly struggle or fail to live up to expectations.

What can you do about them?

Design an effective reward and incentive program to encourage employee performance, says Jennifer Vecchi in an article for Talent Management Magazine.

She offers several tips to jump-start a lagging employee performance through the use of enhanced communication, and a personalized approach to “fixing” the situation.

Get to the Root of the Problem

You need to know what issues the employee has before you will be able to figure out how to correct them. Is the problem related to a lack of training or the absence of skills needed for his or her specific job duties?

See How the Employee “Fits In”

Successful employees are good at finding their place within their company's culture. Poor performers may experience difficulties because they fall outside what Vecchi calls the “core demographics”—resulting in a lack of engagement with the business environment, other employees, or both.

“Continuous training and interoffice gatherings, social or business related, can help alleviate feelings of not fitting in with peers,” she says.

One-Size-Fits-All Won’t Work

If several employees aren't performing up to standard, a “one-size-fits-all” approach to rewards and incentives will likely fall flat.

Instead, gather information about each employee’s particular interests or hobbies. Do they enjoy camping or water sports? Do they read a lot?

As Vecchi notes, “By matching rewards to their interests, (you) can create a more personalized approach to demonstrate caring and motivate employees.”


Sometimes even the appeal of a reward isn't enough on its own to fully correct poor performance. “For some, the prize may seem too far from reach,” Vecchi says. “Remind employees that their small, daily efforts can have a huge impact."

It’s important to keep the lines of communication open and help chart progress toward the goal.

Consider an Alternate Solution

There will be times when the reward and incentive program just doesn’t work because an employee has become too bored or complacent to change. In this case, one useful alternative is offering them a different role, “Perhaps one featuring newer experiences to remind them what they liked about the company in the first place,” says Vecchi.

As unpromising as this may sound, Vecchi reminds us it’s a lot less costly to reposition an employee, rather than replace him or her outright.

Sometimes Employee Performance Isn't There

If employee performance does not improve for an individual and he or she can’t be motivated by a reward or incentive, you run the risk of allowing their negative attitude to infect the rest of your team. An individual like this probably should be terminated. It’s the best action to take for both the unmotivated employee and the good of your team.

Employee rewards and incentives are one method you can use to motivate employees to change work habits. When employee performance improves, so does your business.

What reward and incentive program for employee performance works for you?


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