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Together with KPIs, incentives represent the other key dial with which you can shape employee behavior most directly.
And, just like KPIs, designing an incentive program involves careful fine-tuning to generate maximum results from your team.
An incentive package should be more than a blanket commission structure policy that blindly pushes everyone to generate personal sales, but should never become an over-complex labyrinth that loses recruiter engagement.
As you build your agency’s rewards structure, focus on:

Defining desired behaviours first

If you aren’t clear on exactly what you want your team to do, you can’t effectively incentivise their activity.
Naturally you’ll want them to hit sales goals, but is this enough on its own to drive your agency’s strategic development in a scalable way?

Indicators can include:

  • Is new client acquisition a focus, or account expansion and penetration?
  • Is your team consolidating their work and building foundations for future growth (by building a detailed, annotated CRM and candidate database), or just scraping by on month-to-month billings?
  • Do you need to focus on doing more deal volume, or improving average deal value?

Creating incentive tiers

Incentives operate like a series of levers that your leadership can pull, the ‘carrot’ to the KPI ‘stick’. A range of different incentive tiers can help you clearly see where and when you can have the desired impact on your team’s performance:

  • Basic – which behaviours need to be encouraged on an ongoing basis, to keep the wheels turning? (e.g. monthly sales goals).
  • Strategic – what can you layer in to steer the agency in a certain direction, such as incentivising winning new customers, penetrating new markets, winning retained business or more contract work?
  • Short-term – what instant-impact incentives can you use to generate activity spikes when needed, either pro or re-actively? For example capitalising on seasonal opportunities, building pipeline during a sub-par quarter, or accelerating out of a New Year slump?

Leveraging a full range of incentives

As an employer, you have access to a wide range of tools which can be used to encourage recruiter output.

As your incentive plan matures, it’s important to take advantage of the full set of options in order to shape culture, develop employees and maintain healthy cashflow.

A high-level overview of different incentive types might include:

  • Financial
    Commissions, bonuses, shares and share options
  • Promotion
    Job title, salary, responsibility, leadership, autonomy
  • Training
    Courses, conference attendance, materials
  • Perks
    Holidays, remote working, company cars, expenses accounts
  • Travel
    Client meetings, company offices
  • Collective
    Group & team goals, office goals, company goals

Making sure incentives are understood

After the effort and expense of planning incentive programs, take the time to ensure that your team knows exactly what’s available to them and how to achieve it!

Making incentive plans publicly visible on collaboration platforms or intranets can help visibility, as well as ensuring that onboarding processes cover incentives in depth.
Lastly, be sure to celebrate and communicate highlights from your team when incentives are attained – seeing that rewards are being achieved and enjoyed by colleagues can be more powerful than any amount of reminders that they are on offer.

Developing a weighted pipeline system is an effective approach, grading each opportunity a recruiter is working on by vital signs such as how advanced it is in the process, the level of client hiring urgency, number of competing candidates etc.

Want to know more about agency growth?
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