For starters, you need to find out what types of things will motivate your specific team, and the best way to get that information, is to ASK them!!
Simply being asked is powerful in itself, since it shows that you care about your team and want to offer things that are of value to them. Send out periodic questionnaires to your group, asking what type of bonuses they would be interested in. Leave out a suggestion box that everyone can add suggestions as they think of them.
Consider asking what types of bonuses they would get excited about during the interview process to witness an immediate increase the candidates enthusiasm for your company.
Since not everyone will want the same things, once you have a ‘winner’, let them choose between an assortment of options.
Studies show that for the vast majority of employees in America today, they would give up a $100 bonus in exchange for being publicly praised in front of their co-workers. That is a pretty profound statement, and should be given some serious thought. So whatever option you choose, remember that the primary goal should be to praise your team member in front of their peers for maximize effect.
Here are some suggestions that we have identified over the years to be strong motivators with a minimal investment:
1. Offering services is a strong motivator for many people. Consider offering a coupon for a month of Pool Service, Lawn Care, Babysitting or Housecleaning for your top performer.
2. Tickets to sporting events or concerts.
3. Dinner for 2 Gift Cards can be a strong incentive to be offered on a weekly or monthly basis, allowing your lead employee to take their SO out to dinner to celebrate their accomplishments.
4. Send a personalized cookie to their house announcing their success….(having a picture that says Kara is a SuperStar! would be ideal here). Having someone’s family told that they are excelling at work provides multiple benefits, including having the kids offer additional support to your employee.
5. The ROI on a brightly decorated reserved parking space cannot be overemphasized. Invest in a great sign and allow your top performer to park there for the month. (a picture of a great fun sign that says Top Dog or something like that would be awesome)
6. Offering your top performer a casual dress day or week can have massive appeal, because not only do they get to dress casually, but even more importantly, their co-workers are aware of their status the entire time they are in different attire.
7. Every single team should have a prominent ‘white board’ where you list everyone’s activity. Give some serious thought as to what you want to track. Don’t just focus on the end result, but focus on the smaller things that have to happen in order for the end result. Have sections on your board to show the activity in every single portion of your metrics that are required in order to achieve your ultimate goal. # of initial sales calls, # of sales presentations, # of wins.
8. Utilize social media to sing the praises of your team. You can also announce a significant accomplishment by taking out a newspaper ad, trade publication, or having an ad run prior to the movie at your local theater. Anyplace that your top performer will see, and most importantly that their peers will see, will give you the desired result.