What is the best way to reward our back-office positions such as accounting, admin assistants, HR, etc?

Our sales team and managers have MBO's and commissions to drive goals. How can we improve the performance of our non-metric related employees? Are there certain metrics you track and reward them on? Any ideas would be helpful. We are always having contests and fun rewards for our sales team and feel that the rest of our employees and some of the hardest workers get overlooked.


As someone who has worked in administrative positions for the better part of a decade, I will say: being seen and recognized as part of the team goes a long way.

This can be simple - sending an email to congratulate your team on achieving a goal? Send it to the folks the back office positions, too, and call them out in the email as being part of the success.

A coffee shop gift card with a note that says "thanks for your work on this project" tells us that you see us, and you see how hard we work.

The more information your administrative and clerical employees have about the company goals and objectives, the more they can be involved in meeting them. Take them as true partners rather than peripheral positions - this helps them stay engaged in the work, which helps both you and them.

I'm happy to chat further about my experience - I've worked in huge corporations and small businesses and can help you brainstorm more solutions for rewarding your team.

Answered 4 years ago

In most small companies of less than 100 employees, it is best to motivate back office staff by providing clear direction on goals, demonstrating how they can be successful and then supporting accomplishments with recognition and non-cash rewards. A bonus program can be used but it is typically less effective and more expensive than a customized recognition approach.

The first step is to simply say thank you in a genuine way and connect it to results, such as: “We are able to repair our relationship with our important client because of your careful handling of the situation. The team can benefit from how you discussed the problem with them and found the solution that worked best to get us all back on track. I am planning to discuss your accomplishment with senior leadership so we can replicate this process in the future. Thank you!”

This example is specific, genuine and gives recognition that counts.

Another idea is to give non-cash rewards that are meaningful to the person. As an example, one of your high performers is planning to take time off and travel to Las Vegas with her husband. She is telling her friends at work that she is excited to see the Cirque du Soleil. An excellent reward would be to purchase these tickets for her and her husband to attend the event and present them to her before she departs. Tell her how important she is to the company and specifically mention a few of her accomplishments.

If your managers are not skilled enough to provide meaningful recognition with customized rewards then I would recommend manager training and to use small spot awards until your managers get up to speed. One word of caution, make sure that your cash awards are meaningful amounts for the employee’s accomplishments. If the amounts are not meaningful and the recognition is not timely then your actions can actually have a negative impact on motivation and morale.
Quarterly bonus programs can be effective but, once again, they are not as effective as customized non-cash rewards and you must have a well-established performance management system with effective goals setting and reasonably capable managers. This option is typically too expansive for small firms and it must be managed by a strong HR or Comp team to remain effective over the long term.

I hope this helps. If you would like to discuss further, please contact me.

Answered 4 years ago

Recognition is always powerful. Often much more than money.

Question for you: have you ASKED the people who you feel may be being overlooked what would make them feel appreciated? Co-creating the solution can be more fun and more effective than bringing it in from "on high".

Answered 4 years ago

Both team and individual accomplishments need to be vitally recognized.

Contests and rewards are great. But have you recognized things on an individual level? Your sales manager maybe would like some PTO to do volunteer work while your star sales agent is really passionate about a hobby (which you demonstrate by say, giving them an appropriate gift card after a particularly big sale.)

Fostering companionship over competition can go a long way as well so you don't have people feeling bubbling resentment over that one goldmine territory/client/etc. This is why your employees still need to be rewarded on team efforts when times are good-- so there's no impression of playing favorites.

Balance is key.

Answered 4 years ago

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