Expert Opinion: Creating the right incentive for your team

When looking at running an incentive program it’s important to get it right the first time, writes Mercedes Trautwein, joint managing director, EVT Incentive Marketing
Photo credit: Adam Weekes.

When looking at running an incentive program it’s important to get it right the first time, writes Mercedes Trautwein, joint managing director, EVT Incentive Marketing.

We often find that when the word Incentive pops up, everyone has an opinion on the perfect reward however not how to structure or pay for it. And why not, rewards are the flashy part.  But spending the time on the strategy first will give your incentive the best opportunity to succeed.

To help you on your journey to create an Incentive for your team, or greater organisation, I’ve collated the following Incentive Checklist:

Objectives and Measures

  • Create clearly defined objectives for your program and revisit them every step along the way.
  • Use your objectives to help create your measures- how and what can you use to improve those areas. Identify whom within the business can impact on these elements and target the measures to them.
  • Then review how long will it take to achieve these? In our experience a program needs 12months to impact behavioural change and even then it can take a few rounds to embed.
Find out what will motivate them

The reward options are vast, for example there’s:

  • Recognition and accolades
  • Team outings
  • Individual reward choices
  • Tickets to a sporting event
  • Aspirational incentive trips
  • Or, a personalised gift that you just know they will love.

My advice is to ask your team what would drive them, as you may be surprised, and ensure that the perceived reward value is worth their efforts. Next, work the numbers. The improvement in each measure needs to have a dollar value attached to it and from there you can model your budget.


Some client programs we run are 18 months long and the key to keeping them fresh and exciting is a strong and agile communications plan. I recommend that you:

  • Give it a strong brand
  • Use clear and concise language
  • Create an emotional connection with the reward
  • Report on the performance at least once per month.
  • Pick the right reporting channel- in-office announcement, posters through to program websites, eDMs and our personal favourite- Program Branded Apps.
  • Track Engagement – the more engaged with your program the better they will perform.

Finally don’t pick measures you can’t track and report on. Correct, verifiable data or measure collection tools is the key.

Take these steps in the planning stage and then review as you go.  EVT is always looking for continuous improvement in our clients program and review program performance, ROI, ROE and utilise our engagement algorithm to do so.  It’s better to review and adjust as you go than spend your entire budget on a program that didn’t quite hit mark!

Mercedes Trautwein is the managing director of EVT Incentive Marketing in Sydney.

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