We know that motivation programmes can have a dramatic effect on sales and also on staff morale, but there are several issues that need to be addressed to ensure that such a scheme will work.

Firstly, proper planning at the start will establish what you want to achieve. Then decide who your scheme is aimed at and whether the structure exists to run, measure the scheme and to communicate its key messages.

Participants of the scheme will want answers to questions such as:

a) What do I have to do?

b) How do I do it?

c) How am I getting on?

d) What are the rewards?

Good communication is vital to convey every detail, and avoid misunderstandings from the start. Involvement of senior personnel is also instrumental in driving forward your scheme and it's also advisable to elect a project leader to co-ordinate activity and to answer queries.

Your programme should be aligned to your business objectives in terms of improvements in customer service, increase in efficiency or productivity, and deciding what you need to achieve will help in determining your target audience. If your scheme is spread across the company, consider how departments will inter-relate and how you will communicate with personnel working in disparate parts of the organisation.

Profiling the target audience is vital, particularly so when devising a motivation scheme. Age range, gender, hobbies and interests, marital status and salary bands are an integral issue, as is dividing participants into groups, based on job profile, level of responsibility, salary level and whether participants work full or part-time. Profiling will help ensure that you provide a relevant and aspirational reward to suit the individual: after all, what appeals to a 25-year-old single man may not be as exciting to a 45-year-old woman with family.

But the four key elements in any incentive scheme have to be:

  • Communication
  • Recognition
  • Measurement
  • Reward

A motivation programme should be easy to understand, and good communication using posters, newsletters etc will help facilitate this. Invest some of the budget in materials that will get your message across, and launch the programme with as much panache as budgets permit, notifying everyone of their targets. Set a realistic date for the launch, and preview with an announcement. And don't forget to brief department managers, asking them to simultaneously speak to their teams. 

Invest some of the budget in materials that will get your message across, and launch the programme with as much panache as budgets permit, notifying everyone of their targets

Ensure you communicate regularly using more than one medium, ie. company email and weekly/monthly meetings. Update participants regularly on progress, and remind them of the rewards available to maintain enthusiasm. But ensure that once you start communicating progress, you maintain it.

Everyone loves a public pat on the pack, so publicise good news stories at presentations or conferences, as recognition helps maintain the scheme's momentum, and participants' enthusiasm.

Another useful idea is to measure performance via sales and revenue reports, and also by customer service feedback forms. If possible, adapt existing reporting tools and establish a cut-off date for each performance period. Break the year up into quarters and report in that way. Offer interim awards for those who reach quarterly targets (remembering to take into account seasonal workflows) and give a major award at the year end for best overall performance.

Your reward budget should be 65-80% of your total budget and should relate to participants' basic earnings. A decision should also be taken on whether the reward is capped or open-ended and give an accelerator in the first month/quarter to get the scheme off to a blazing start.

But, above all, the reward must be exciting and attainable and fall within your budget parameters. This is where retail vouchers come into their own, as they provide such a wide choice of goods or services, and appeal to all ages and interests; whether it be music, DVDs, electrical goods, clothes, homeware, leisure products or cosmetics and fragrances. And aspirational treats - whether it be a day at a beauty salon, or the chance to buy a designer outfit - are always welcome.

‘Experience' rewards are a great way to engage personnel in motivational schemes. There is a vast selection available, for example, House of Fraser's shopping and pampering experience "Pure Indulgence" provides an unforgettable day out for both men and women by combining relaxation, reinvigoration and reinvention, all in one day. This is achieved by pampering each recipient with a facial, makeover or skincare treatment, a sumptuous lunch at Café Zest, expert style consultation and finally vouchers to spend on a new wardrobe.

House of Fraser's corporate incentive range also extends to hampers and gift boxes, which make an ideal staff reward both at Christmas and throughout the year. The 2008 range includes a host of famous and exclusive brands such as Mrs. Bridges, Duchy Original and Cottage Delight. A ‘Jimmy's Farm' Christmas hamper is available exclusively to House of Fraser, which features a mouth-watering selection of produce fresh from Jimmy Doherty's farm.

Good motivation programmes can be simple and cost-effective to organise and run, and - done properly - can have a very positive impact on company morale and also on the bottom line.

Catherine Forrest is business incentives manager at House of Fraser. For more information visit www.houseoffraser.co.uk