The 5 Key Features of a Good Incentive Plan

By Alex Tanglao, Updated: 2023-02-25 (published on 2018-01-20)

By Neo Shi Qin, DecodeHR

The 5 Key Features of a Good Incentive Plan

Incentive plans are becoming an increasingly popular tool to drive employee performance. A well-designed plan can help to accelerate business growth as well as achieve talent attraction and retention. The more and better the employee works the business grows faster. Today we explore 5 key features of a good incentive plan.

1. Clear and Specific

 A good incentive plan should be clear, specific and easy to understand. Employees need to first have an unobstructed view of the plan and its objectives to reinforce behaviours which will lead to desired business outcomes. Such a plan also makes it easy to be administered with minimal errors, and this also helps to develop system credibility.

2. Agile

In today’s economic climate where competition is the norm, businesses must continually evolve to stay relevant and innovative. Likewise, a good incentive plan must also be agile enough to adapt quickly to changes while remain effective as a driver of performance. Companies should use compensation benchmarking tools and rely on up-to-date data to create salary structures and stay competitive in the market. 

In Singapore’s context, the Smart Nation initiative has huge bearings on how performance should be measured and quantified. The use of technology has allowed for the automation of many functions in the workplace and businesses need to rethink their KPIs. For example, administrative assistants may no longer be required to process and track department claims, and instead be expected to now take on a more analytical role in producing meaningful dashboard reports.

3. Attractive and Attainable

A good incentive plan must be attractive enough to motivate performance but also be attainable with stretched efforts so that employees will not be discouraged. As a rule of thumb, the average achievement level should be set as the target and 20% above that could be a stretch goal with upside earnings. The company can also decide if it wants to take an all-or-nothing approach or consider multiple levels of incentives for various levels of performance.

4. Measurable Results

The key objective of any incentive plan is to drive performance to achieve desired results. For the plan to be successful, results must be measurable with clear indicators and this begins with an effective goal setting framework. SMART goals which are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based are useful in helping businesses set goals and measure results.

5. Consider Non-Monetary Incentives

Incentives do not necessarily have to be monetary. To build a successful incentive plan, businesses must identify the form of compensation that will be the most effective. In the absence of generous budgets, businesses can offer non-monetary incentives such as paid time-off or awards and recognitions as performance drivers. Incentive plans do not have to be expensive unlike what most people think!

Related Reading: How to Design a Successful Performance Bonus Plan

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This article is a guest contribution by Neo Shi Qin of DecodeHR. The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Zegal may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view. Learn more about guest blogging for Zegal here.

About DecodeHR

DecodeHR provides strategic advice and high-impact solutions to clients primarily in Asia, specializing in the areas of Strategic HR Reviews, Competency Frameworks Development, Strategic Workforce Planning, Pre and Post Merger & Acquisition integration and Transformation projects.

Our strength is our deep knowledge of Singapore and Asia, and this is coupled with experience in the international arena. We distill the best global practices to bring to you practical solutions for maximum impact.


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