It is no secret that employers want to give their employees a reason to work harder and increase their productivity. It helps their employees better themselves, and it most obviously gets the employer more profit when their employees work harder.

But what many employers do not realize is that they are actually giving their employees the wrong incentives and not rewarding their hard-workers in the correct way so that they stay motivated and excited about the work that they are doing for you.

For example, if you reward people based off of just one criterion, then you are not getting a full scope for how your organization is performing as a whole. It is not wrong to give your employees incentives if it is done the proper way and you focus on internal motivation first, and external motivation next.

This means that instead of focusing on external rewards like money and praise right off the bat, you first want to look at your employees individually and see what personally motivated them internally and how they encourage themselves to do better in business. If you follow six easy rules, you can have a more successful reward and incentive program next time you try.

1.) Don’t give your employees a promise for rewards well in advance

Instead of publicly announcing that the employees will get rewards for a job well done, or if they meet a certain goal, or exceed expectations, throw everyone off and give rewards at unexpected times. This will keep your employees focused on doing a good job for a good job’s sake instead of focusing on getting a reward if they try to meet an expectation. It keeps the head in the right place.

2.) If people anticipate rewards, keep them small

Your employees may start catching onto your patterns and realizing that if they do something in a certain way, then they will more than likely get rewarded for it. This cannot always be prevented and that is ok. Keep these rewards small, so that it makes them feel special but keeps their focus on the actual task at hand.

3.) Reward your employees more than once

A good motto to go by is that you can find something to celebrate and reward every single day. Go out of your way to find someone to celebrate and reward, even if it is a small reward, for their efforts and a job well done. When people feel constantly appreciated, they want to work harder for you and do the best they can for you!

4.) Reward people so that others can see

People feel appreciated and valued when the hard work that they do is noticed by their employers. So avoid telling them that you appreciate them and why in private, and instead do it so many other employees hear it. You could do this through announcements during the day or you can make sessions like P2M reward and recogntion programs that recognize the hard work of employees and publicly rewards them for it.

5.) Reward efforts, not just a good outcome

Employees can receive the desired outcome by cheating the system and taking shortcuts to get to the outcome. This is all good and well, but what should matter the employer is the person that works harder than others and makes a bigger effort, but may not always get the outcome just right. It is important to reward and encourage those who continue to bust their butts and put in hard work as it shows a great deal of character in your employee.

6.) Reward both peers and subordinates

The peers of your employees are usually going to be the ones who know which of them deserves and needs praise and a small reward for a job well done. It may be smart to reward the peers who help each other and encourage each other to work hard, and not fully rely on the managers who may not know as well which of the employees deserves a reward.

Putting these rules in place can make your reward and incentive program much more efficient. The most important thing to remember is that people like to feel appreciated. They want to feel as though their voices are heard and that their opinions matter and their hard work does not go unnoticed. Practice these steps and your employees will feel appreciation from you and work harder with you and for you than ever before.