Sunday, February 19, 2012

Non Cash Incentives for Cleaning Techs

If you have been following many of us that own cleaning services on Facebook you may have noticed that a lot of us have started using a system of non cash incentives.  Some people call them maid bucks, bonus bucks, etc. but many of the ARCSI members have started doing it.  At My Maid Service have started using a system called bonus bucks.  We give the employees bucks on their anniversary with the company, birthday, for perfect attendance, for helping other teams at the end of the day and more.  The techs can save their money from month to month and then at the end of the month we have an auction for various prizes that change each month. 

Using incentives to motivate your staff is a great way to bring excitement to your team but it is also tricky.  When you ask your staff what incentive they want they will almost always tell you cash.  But cash is not the best way to go.  Hundreds of studies have been done on ways to motivate employees and they all agree cash is not the way to go  When I worked for Procter & Gamble we used a company called Business Incentives and their whole reason for being was to incent employees and they were very good at it. Business Incentives taught me that using cash is not usually the best way to incent employees.  They shared one study asked employees 6 months after they got a cash incentive, what did you do with it. The top three responses: 29% paid bills.  18% do not remember.  15% not only did not remember what they did with cash, they swore they never even got a cash incentive in the first place.  Considering the amount of money we spend on incentives we would like to think our employees will remember that we gave them the money.

So what incentives work best?  Unfortunately there is no blanket answer, it varies by person.  However all effective incentives have 2 things in common.  One, it has to be something your employee wants.  Two, an incentive has to be something the employee could never justify buying themselves.  The classic example is the salesman who is offered a cash incentive of $1,000 or a $500 golf driver.  In study after study the sales person will work harder and sell more for the $500 driver than the $1,000 cash.  Why?  When you look at this it seems to make no sense.  Win the $1,000, buy the golf club, and still have $500.  In the real world this is not how it works.  If the salesman wins $1,000 and spends half the money on golf clubs he feels very guilty and if he is married, well he is in HUGE trouble for wasting the money.  But he cannot feel guilty for winning the golf club.  When he comes home and shows his wife what he won, she is proud of him, not angry for wasting the cash.  He can get something he would really want but could never justify buying on his own.  And yes the same thing works with women, I used the sales man example because most people are very familiar with it.  While we are not normally dealing with men, the rules are the same.  If our employees win $250 they will spend it on bills or clothes for the kids.  They will be responsible.  However if they win something for themselves it is much more special and memorable.  Responsible is not memorable.

Giving non cash incentives has one other huge advantage, the bragging factor.  It is not socially acceptable to tell people about all the money you have.  But if you go on a great trip, or have a great experience, or got a great thing, you are expected to tell everyone about it.  Your employee will be selling your next incentive for you.  

We need to think of what our employees want, and it is not always what we want.  One of my first incentives was a dinner for 2 at a great 5 star steakhouse.  No one even tried.  I thought they would be motivated to eat somewhere they would never go on their own.  I was wrong.  They did not want to go to a place they did not feel they belonged.  It was not special.  It was intimidating.  What incentives have worked best for me?  Sporting event packages.  Jewelry.  An extra day of vacation that cannot be turned in for pay. 

What do they want but that their guilt would never let them buy for themselves?  Also remember that different employees want different things so it may make sense to make your incentive a choice so employees can pick what makes them excited.  For example the person that generates the most leads from flyering neighbors gets 4 great tickets to the Cincinnati Bengals and $50 food gift card or a emerald necklace.  Finally change the incentives.  Different people will respond to different things.  If you have someone that is always left out, make an option for just them once in a while.  For example, I only have 1 real hobby outside work, comic books.  Yes I am a huge geek..  I never worked so hard as the one time by boss offered a fancy golf outing, spa day, or a near mint copy of Avengers #3.  My wife would kill me if I spent $400 on a comic book so I worked very hard to win that comic, and I did.  Get creative and you can get better results for less money than cash.

1 comment:

CleaningIsFun said...

Thanks for the great article Derek! I love what you said about making the reward something that they would never buy themselves. You are very insightful. We will be trying out these ideas soon and I think it will be a lot of fun. Thanks again!