The 15-70-15 Rule

The 15-70-15 Rule

Article written by Incentive Services University
“Take aim at the heart of your workforce.”

In order to maximize performance, it’s important to understand the cross-section of a typical work force. It’s common for a normal group to have 15% of its employees in a top, elite group. On the other hand, 15% may be disengaged or problem employees. This leaves the bulk of your work force, 70%, in the middle.

The group at the top consists of self-motivated, talented employees. Most of these people are experienced and take it upon themselves to do their jobs in the best way possible. This elite group produces outstanding results whatever the motivational factors may be.

On the reverse side, the bottom 15% is generally unmotivated and disengaged. This bottom percentile does not have experience and most likely will never obtain it as they bounce from one job to the next. These people more than likely will not be with you in the future.

The group that makes up the major portion of your work force is the middle 70%. The results, records, and bottom line of your organization are dependent on whether this middle percentile can be motivated and trained to improve. The individuals within this middle group must feel they have an attainable goal and will be recognized for improving their personal performance. It is unrealistic in their minds to strive to be better than the elite employees.

When structuring a performance recognition strategy, it’s important to focus on this middle 70%. Programs that only highlight the top 15% spend money on people who will probably accomplish similar results independently. The focus should be on the portion of the work force that will bring the biggest return. Every employee in the middle 70% should feel they have the ability and opportunity to achieve pre-set goals.

In many situations, we have found that incentive dollars and manager time are directed incorrectly. Most of the time and resources are spent with the low achievers who will not be with the organization in the future, while most of the incentive budget is spent on the high achievers who would have accomplished similar results independently. Focus on motivating and engaging the middle 70% and watch your performance improve.

Site Links

The Importance Of Recognition

The Importance of Recognition

Article written by Incentive Services University

“Thank you.” “Great job.” “Congratulations!” Whether adults or children, we all like to receive validation for our efforts, achievements and success. Employers often spend a great deal of time, money and energy recruiting and hiring new employees, optimizing employee performance, and ensuring the retention of talent. But many organizations forget the basic tenet that employees are more engaged, more productive, and more likely to stay with a company when they feel valued and appreciated for their time and efforts. It all starts with the importance of recognition.

What do we mean by recognition? According to Kim Harrison, “Employee recognition is the timely, informal or formal acknowledgement of a person’s or team’s behavior, effort or business result that supports the organization’s goals and values, and which has clearly been beyond normal expectations” (Why Employee Recognition is So Important). In fact, we all have a fundamental human need to be recognized, noticed and appreciated. But according to John J. Oliver, ” Recognition is one of the most powerful, least used management tools. . . It’s not about favoritism, but about recognizing and rewarding all employees who meet well-defined and stated criteria” (The Rewards of Recognition). Recognition in the workplace may be formal or informal, but – when sincere – it is always appreciated.

Informal recognition of employees can be as simple as a verbal “thank you” for a late night at the office or a well-timed email of congratulations on a successful project. Some companies even have websites that make sending a quick note of recognition as easy as clicking a link. More formal recognition programs might include Service Awards to recognize employees for their years of dedicated service or Spot Awards offering spontaneous gifts, cards or points with a monetary value to recognize employees “in the moment.” Helping your managers to understand the value of recognition, and then harnessing that positive power, can lead to significant benefits for your employees and for your entire organization.

In his article, Employers Learning That ‘B’ Players Hold the Cards, author Del Jones points out that ” . . . failure and success [in an organization] might not lie among the weakest and strongest links, but in the solid middle, . . . the 75% of workers who have been all but ignored.” These are the employees who will stick around long after the “A players” have run because the ” . . . opportunities for riches and promotions dry up. . . . loyal B players, still retain the organizational memory to help their companies survive and . . . move forward.” This makes recognizing your “B players” for their efforts that much more important. Spread the recognition across the whole organization.

Recognition, whether formal or informal, can benefit your entire organization. When leveraged properly, it can create higher levels of engagement and satisfaction for your employees and can be a motivating factor in their day-to-day performance. Higher employee engagement can also lead to a more positive, productive and stable organization. And it all starts with a simple “Thank You.”

Site Links

Top 10 Reasons

Top 10 Reasons Why Your Company Needs An Employee Incentive Program

Article found on

Employee Incentive Programs reward exceptional employees for reaching work goals, achieving milestones or simply doing a good job. These types of programs are designed to offer incentive and rewards to valued employees. Employee Incentive Programs have proven very successful in arousing motivation in employees and increasing the overall performance of the company. An incentive program is a great way to show employees that you value their input while at the same time increasing your businesses potential.

Here are the top ten reasons your company needs an Employee Incentive Program.

1. Mutual Rewards. An Employee Incentive Program is mutually beneficial. The employee feels valued and motivated and is therefore more productive and committed. The company reaps the benefits of a motivated, focused and loyal employee. The results of Incentive Programs have a consistent theme. The company’s bottom line increases as the employee’s productivity peaks.

2. Increased Motivation. Many people find it hard to motivate themselves at work. This is a common occurrence and one that has been significantly effected by Incentive Programs. These programs motivate employees by offering rewards for reaching targets and company goals. These come in many forms ranging from cash to cars to holidays to gifts. The rewards are a great motivator but what is more inspiring for the employee is that the company cares enough to offer these incentives.

3. Increased Company Morale. Rewards, incentives and recognition make for a happy, harmonious working environment. Goal setting and targeting objectives helps with focus and purpose. Employee Incentive programs offer all of these things and are highly conducive to company morale. Increases in company morale help to reduce absenteeism and overall company costs.

4. Increase Company Loyalty. Company loyalty is not something you can buy. However incentives for good work and rewards for hard work go a long way to securing commitment from employees. Employee incentive programs show employees the company values their input and their work. If an employee feels valued and appreciated they are more likely to form an allegiance to the company.

5. Increased Productivity. Incentive programs promote productivity in a number of ways. Employees are offered incentives for reaching targets or for good work in general. These incentives vary but the main aim is to encourage employees to work towards company goals. With the promise of incentives and clearly defined targets employees are more productive and motivated.

6. Increase Objective Achievement. Incentive Programs are a great way to reach targets and company objectives. Using an Incentive Program employers can set realistic goals and reward employees when the reach them. This is a great way to boost productivity and morale while at the same time achieving company goals.

7. Reduced Company Costs. Overall company costs can be reduced as a result of an Incentive Program. This cost can be measured in terms of reduced absenteeism, reduced recruitment costs and turnover of staff. You will also see a significant return on your investment via increased productivity and motivation within the office.

8. Reduced Absenteeism. The bottom line with incentive programs comes down to the very simple fact that people like being rewarded for hard work and a job well done. The rewards are only part of the equation. Incentive schemes show employees the company cares and appreciates the work they are outputting. If an employee feels appreciated and has clear targets that result in rewards then they are more likely to want to come to work.

9. Team Work. Incentive Programs promote teamwork and foster an environment that is conducive to success. Employees working towards rewards or targets will pull together to achieve desired results. Teamwork increases efficiency and creates harmony within the workplace.

10. Decreased Turnover. Incentive Programs foster happy, productive working environments. Employees enjoying this kind of environment will be more likely to stay long term. This means incentive programs reduce the amount of turnovers within the company. The advantage of consistent staffing is that you are not spending money on recruiting or training new staff. You are also able to retain loyal committed employees with a vested company interest.

Site Links

Four Tips

Four Tips For Structuring Incentive Programs

Article written by Ann McKeough

Company success rests on the performance of employees. As organizations look at ways to reward and motivate their workers, recognition methods have come a long way from a pat on the back and upgraded parking spot. Structured incentive programs—which reward employees for meeting performance-based milestones—are helping employees set, meet and exceed goals, and helping companies attract and retain valuable talent. Employee incentives also help build brand loyalty.

In fact, employees who participate in company-driven incentive programs say they feel more valued (85%), are more loyal to their companies (65%) and get better results (60%). And at companies without incentive programs, one-third of office workers say they’d put in an extra workweek each year, if their company would implement one.

Here are four tips to help companies structure effective incentive programs:

1. Align the program with company objectives: By keeping your incentive program in line with company business goals, you’ll ensure that employees are trying to achieve milestones that matter. That is, they’ll be focusing on your organization’s priorities while striving to improve the business as a whole.

2. Communicate effectively: When structuring an incentive program, it’s essential that the goals and details of the program be communicated to participants. Have a clear plan that outlines communication frequency, along with vehicles—such as conversations with managers, an internal website, a company newsletter, etc.—for communication. Increased understanding within the business can ultimately lead to better results.

3. Engage all levels of business: It’s critical to align the entire company around the goals of the incentive programs. Providing incentives for just one level of business can ultimately have a negative impact on performance goals. If salespeople are part of the incentive program, make sure the sales managers are as well so that everyone feels engaged and motivated.

4. Choose effective rewards: An incentive program is only as good as its rewards. When selecting rewards. Remember to provide products that motivate employees and drive performance. Many incentive programs are points-based, allowing workers to earn points that can be redeemed for a reward of their choosing—which in turn, can make it more meaningful.

Site Links

Employee Engagement

Employee Engagement: What It Is and Why You Need It reader Derek Irvine on the importance of engaging employees strategically and authentically

As someone whose job it is to advise companies on employee engagement, I was fascinated to read “Making Employee Engagement Fashionable” by the CEO of Gucci recently on As I was moved to comment on the column, strategic recognition is the key to fostering a truly engaged workforce. As the recession drags on, company leaders are looking for any solution to boost morale, increase productivity, and help gain competitive advantage. Employee engagement is rapidly becoming the answer for many organizations, though many remain confused about the benefits of employee engagement, what it is, and how to foster it in their organizations. Why should you care if your employees are engaged? The research on the bottom-line benefits of employee engagement is clear: Towers Perrin has found that companies with engaged employees boosted operating income by 19% compared with companies with the lowest percentage of engaged employees, which saw operating income fall 33%. What does that mean in real dollars? For S&P 500 companies, Watson Wyatt (WW) reports that a significant improvement in employee engagement increases revenue by $95 million.

Productivity Boost

The effects of engagement on employee productivity, retention, and recruitment are no less astonishing. Watson Wyatt further found that companies with highly engaged employees experienced 26% higher employee productivity, lower turnover risk, greater ability to attract top talent, and 13% higher total returns to shareholders over the last five years. Additionally, highly engaged employees are twice as likely to be top performers—and miss 20% fewer days of work. They also exceed expectations in performance reviews and are more supportive of organizational change initiatives. So you’re convinced you need to get your employees more engaged. But what does that mean? The definitions of employee engagement seem endless and include increased line of sight, greater commitment, and willingness to give additional discretionary effort. Instead of trying to define employee engagement, I want to know what an engaged employee looks like, how they behave while at work, and how to replicate that in the organization. One definition of an engaged employee is one who gives additional discretionary effort. That doesn’t go far enough. That additional effort, willingly and happily given, must be put toward something that matters to the company. The most worthwhile engagement is seen in employees who happily want to give additional effort and know where to apply it. This combination of action and line of sight results in an engaged employee who willingly works harder to deliver against your company’s strategic objectives in their own daily tasks.

Say “Thank You”

Now that we’ve explained why you should care about employee engagement and defined it, there’s still one catch. Do your employees know your strategic objectives? More important, do they have any idea how their daily work impacts the achievement of those objectives? In my experience very few line employees can even cite the company’s objectives, much less articulate how their work helps achieve them. But it has never been more urgent for every employee to understand precisely this connection. You need to clearly communicate the needs of your company (e.g., your strategic objectives) and show employees how their individual, specific efforts help the company achieve those objectives. How? It’s simple: Say “thank you.” During a down economy, when companies need employees to give more discretionary effort to achieve critical objectives, strategic employee recognition specifically acknowledges actions and behaviors that align with company values and help achieve those objectives, encouraging employees to repeat precisely those behaviors needed for the organization to succeed. Recognition is based on fostering an environment in which employees want to perform, then letting managers and even peers acknowledge exceptional effort and praise deserving employees. All employees need recognition for their efforts and validation that their work is appreciated—now more than ever. If the recognition is for demonstrating a company value or achieving a strategic objective, employees begin to see how their individual efforts contribute to company success. Strategic recognition is by far the most positive and effective way to ensure that employee effort is maximized, aligned with company objectives, and reflective of company values.

Site Links