Individual Incentive Plans: Pros and Cons of Individual Incentive Plans

What are Incentive Plans?

Incentives are varying benefits given to employees based on how well they perform. An organization's success depends on attracting and retaining effective people.

The goal of incentive schemes is to motivate employees to work toward the company's objectives. If your strategy does not do this, it is a waste of money rather than a benefit. Consider the financial or organizational goals you want to achieve before launching your strategy and adjust the incentive to those goals.

If a person's individually quantifiable performance captures the absolute majority of their contributions to the company’s profitability, then their sales compensation plan should focus solely on their individual success, according to the impact principle.

An individual’s individually measurable performance is difficult to record, and their success is instead collectively quantified as part of a team; for example- participating in all sales in an area, a team-based incentive pay plan is the best option.

What are Individual Incentive Plans?

This is the most popular form of incentive in the industry, under which employees are rewarded individually for their additional contributions. The individual incentive plans definition is pretty straightforward. Individual incentives, as the name indicates, are incentives offered to individuals for making greater contributions to the organization’s goals.

The basic purpose of this sort of incentive scheme is to motivate top performers to keep working well while also motivating other employees to follow in their footsteps and obtain incentives.

Individual performance that may be measured in quantitative ways is used to compute incentives under this system. Everyone gains if you base your individual incentive plans on ideas from your employees and surveys.

When a company or department achieves its objectives and employees share in the victory, it is a win-win! It’s critical to clarify how individual and corporate goals are linked so your workforce understands the goals aren’t random.

When high-performing employees are recognized for their efforts, individual incentive plans give them a sense of personal success. Individual employees who are rewarded through this sort of pay system receive incentives based on their performance; thus, those who have yet to earn the bonus will be rewarded if they devote more time to improving their individual successes.

Individual incentive plans, on the other hand, have a different face as well. The possibility for needless rivalry. While having more successful workers is good for the company, some individuals may take shortcuts or even undermine the success of other employees in order to qualify for incentives under individual incentive plans.

The most crucial thing to consider when determining which sales incentive plan to utilize with individuals within your company is “the influence principle.” The key is not only what an employee accomplishes, whether it’s solo or team-based work, but how individually measurable their achievement is. While reps should always be free to work independently and as part of a team, their total performance is frequently determined by correctly targeted monetary incentives supplied to them based on their responsibilities in helping the business succeed.

Pros of Individual Incentive Plans

Individual incentives are dependent on the individual’s performance. This sort of incentive is frequently utilized to keep top performers on board. This incentive scheme ensures that employee remuneration is appropriate for their achievements.

Individual incentive plans are acceptable in a society that promotes individuality, which is common in Western nations. Employees and employers do not have a dispute since their demands are met because employees are rewarded for their efficiency, and companies are pleased with enhancing productivity. Because the workers are driven to work more, less monitoring is necessary. This frees up time for supervision for the supervisor. They can use this time for more critical tasks.

We can enlist a few of the many benefits that individual incentive plans can provide:

1. Inspires Employees

Employees are motivated to accomplish their best through individual incentives, encouraging them to learn from high performers. Top performers are rewarded and recognized for their achievements. This may encourage them to keep improving. Underachievers may feel compelled to work more in order to receive incentives. Observing the winners’ actions can educate them on how to achieve similar results. Employees are individually driven to achieve better levels of organizational performance.

2. Increased Productivity

Employees are encouraged to go above and beyond the set goal. It contributes to an improvement in productivity. It motivates and rewards top achievers for their achievements. Work engagement and overall organizational performance will improve as a result of individual incentive plans.

3. Higher Job Satisfaction & Low Staff Turnover

Individual incentives, which are appropriate for an individualistic culture, assist employees in achieving a better degree of job satisfaction. They ensure that pay is distributed fairly. Individuals’ overall organizational abilities will improve due to their job happiness. It aids in the retention of high-performing individuals inside the company. As a result, staff turnover is minimal as it aids in retaining top performers.

4. Cost Minimization

Individual incentive plans aid in improving the performance of the workforce, resulting in fewer downtimes and greater output. Increased productivity aids in the reduction of the cost of production. Hence, it is safe to say that individual incentives save money for the company. Increased output lowers per-unit costs, resulting in a direct benefit to the business.

5. Healthy Competition

Individual incentive plans encourage positive workplace competitiveness among individuals. They cultivate a culture that prioritizes sales. An incentive plan gives something for which your workforce may compete if your company likes a healthy and positive competitive spirit.

6. Clarity

Individual incentive plans are simple to formulate and execute. It’s simple to track the performance of the employees and decide the consequences. They clearly distinguish between those who contribute and those who do not. They aid in the correlation of remuneration to individual performance. Needless to say, individual incentives are simple to manage and implement.

Cons of Individual Incentive Plans

Even good individual incentive plans may go awry in actuality while delivering so many fantastic benefits. One of the drawbacks of individual incentive plans is that uncompensated factors may go unrecognized. Incentive performance can be influenced by factors outside the employee’s control. Furthermore, unions often oppose these systems, preferring remuneration based on seniority or job classification. There’s more to it than that. Some of these flaws are also present in the individual incentive plans:

1. Higher Attrition

Although individual incentive plans have been shown to boost performance, there have been some doubts raised. Low-performing employees are discouraged via individual incentive plans. As a result, they may opt to leave the company, resulting in significant staff turnover.

2. Lack of Teamwork

Individual incentive plans motivate employees to achieve higher levels of performance. As a result, there is a lack of collaboration at the workstation. Setting performance goals takes work, and unreasonable expectations hinder drive further. Employees and management may lose trust as a result of individual incentives. An attitude of trust and collaboration is required for these initiatives to be successful.

3. Sacrificed Quality

Employees may be encouraged to enhance productivity and concentrate solely on volume. It has the potential to lower the product’s quality. Hence, individual incentive plans such as piece rates may induce employees to maximize the quantity of output while compromising quality if quality control measures are insufficient.

4. Conflicts

There’s a possibility that individuals’ personal ambitions and corporate goals would clash, resulting in mistrust between management and employees. These initiatives, in particular, may mean that the staff are competing with one another, which might have negative consequences. For example, commission-based department store salesmen may compete for consumers, pushing them away. Customers, admittedly, do not even mind who they engage with as long as the experience is positive.

Difference between Individual and Group Incentive Plans

Rather than recognizing a few high-performing individuals, a team-based incentive plan focuses on rewarding team success. The primary advantage of a group incentive plan is that it gives everyone an equal chance to be recognized, even if some employees are more talented than others. It enables coworkers to cooperate by picking up the slack when team members have problems.

Unlike individual incentive plans, however, high performers may feel short-changed when underperformers are rewarded equally, regardless of their contribution to the team, because it equally compensates employees who do not work as hard as others on the same level as top performers. The most significant disadvantage compared to its counterpart is that it may jeopardize the pay-for-performance concept. If not managed appropriately, it can even push high performers out of the company since management cannot pinpoint which elements have the greatest impact on performance as rapidly.

To Conclude

Regular audits are the only way to determine what kind of incentive plans are necessary. As you can see, each strategy has advantages and disadvantages, but with individual incentive plans, there is no blame game since employees win or fail on their own merit, and employees recognize that they are in charge of their own earning potential. The key to determining the ideal one for your company is to examine how each employee’s position is defined.

Incentivate can help you establish a sales compensation system that gives your organization the knowledge and data it needs to make the best choice for each employee, regardless of the sales compensation plan you pick for your company.

About Author

Sumeet Shah

Chief Growth Officer @Incentivate, has over 15 years of experience in management consulting, product engineering, and analytics, working with clients across multiple countries, functions, and domains.