Businesses work when teams work. Today, even star performers have to work as part of a team. But corporate incentive programs often recognize individual contributions more than teamwork. Praising only your solo stars is a common mistake — one that contributes to a competitive, toxic culture. But finding ways to recognize both the stand-out stars and the teams that support them? That leads to great collaboration — and great culture.
“Individual commitment to a group effort–that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” — Vince Lombardi
So how do you design corporate incentive programs that both encourage individual performance and build team spirit?
We have seven suggestions. (And they don’t cost anything!)
- Encourage team members to recognize each other. This study on prosocial bonuses showed that teams perform better when members get to reward each other compared to when management just rewards individuals directly.
- Recognize your self-sacrificers. Research shows that every successful team has one member who may not live up to their individual potential because they’re busy helping other team members do better. While many companies overlook the value of this self-sacrificer because their individual metrics appear paltry, their work is critical to boost everyone else’s performance. Recognizing the value of the team supporter will help everyone perform better.
- Dedicate 50% of your corporate incentive programs to team recognition. While it’s tempting to give the majority of your recognition to star performers – there’s often a whole team behind that performer helping to make them successful. To feed a sense of fairness, Michael Schrage (from MIT’s Sloane School of Business) recommends at least a 50% split between individuals and teams.
- Have employees take time off – and back each other up. A Harvard Business Review study showed that a group of bankers who were forced to take time off ended up working better as a team – because they had to strategize on making sure that no balls were dropped when a teammate was out of the office.
- Let teams collaborate on awards. We see this in our own office. Being able to pool bonus points together to get a group reward or experience bonds employees – both because the reward is meaningful to the group and because working together to get the reward itself builds stronger relationships.
- Use group experiences as rewards instead of just stuff. Experiences are the path to happiness. Include group experiences as a reward to build team performance.
- Recognize cross-team collaboration. At times, team performance contests create so much competition between groups that they start siloing from each other. By setting up incentives for cross-team collaboration, you have a chance to unify your culture and keep everyone moving forward.
Putting some or all of these ideas into action will strengthen the connections between your team members – whether they’re on the same team or spread across the company. And that connection is one of the key elements of a great employee experience.
Get more ideas for making your corporate incentive programs more effective in our guide: Reward and Recognition Systems that Work.
Kazoo is the employee experience platform powered by the science of motivation and the mission of improving the lives of employees everywhere, one company at a time. Founded in 2013, Kazoo grows company culture and improves bottom-line performance metrics through its robust engagement platform that delivers recognition, rewards, incentives, and team insights. Named to Entrepreneur Magazine’s list of Best Company Cultures in 2017, the Austin-based SaaS company and its technology platform are built on the four pillars of employee experience: connection, meaning, impact and appreciation. To request a demo, visit youearnedit.com/demo</a