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Incentive Games for Work – Auctions Work!

Updated on March 7, 2012

Earlier this week I was reading Bills Place fantastic hub ‘10+ Ways to Reward Employees on a Low Budget’ and I wrote a comment about a concept that I developed back in the 90’s called Bonu$ Buck$. I thought that this would make an interesting hub on how to motivate a workforce and to drive change with little money to invest.

Back in the 1990’s I ran the contact centre for the local betting agency (SA TAB), we were a State Government owned entity that ran as if it was a true business with very little Government involvement or policy.

As with a lot of contact centres we experienced poor absenteeism, low schedule adherence and lacked a sense of team work. With my Team Leaders and Managers we brainstormed what we could do to enable us to increase our productivity, while developing team work and increased sales along the way.

Out of this session we developed Bonu$ Buck$.

Auction Style Incentives

The concept was pretty simple – if you came to work on time, performed your duties and got your target you were rewarded with a set amount of Bonu$ Buck$. You could also get more Buck$ if you exceeded your target, did something special or a client or a team member or came up with a good idea that would make the experience better for customers.

Each Team Leader and Manager had a stack of Buck$ to give away each day to people that were performing above and beyond the call of duty.

In these days we weren’t that computerised, so we recorded how much everyone got each day to stop people from ‘giving’ their Buck$ to other people, thereby gaming the incentive.

Once the campaign started each day we would reveal a new prize that people could bid on at the auction to be held at the end of the month. Being a ‘poor’ contact centre within the Government there was no money for these types of programs so we needed to be inventive. Here are some of the ways that we got prizes:

  • We gave away hour early marks, extra lunches & tea breaks, paid day off, a free carpark in the Exec area for a week
  • Spoke to supplier about giving a prize, some gave alcohol, others gave goods as prizes
  • We spoke with marketing and got some signed sports memorabilia from sponsorships
  • We asked Exec’s to give away a money can’t buy experience such as lunch with the CEO or a visit to the go-cart track and lunch with your manager
  • We bought cheap bottles of wine and movie tickets to increase the prize pool

All up we spent about $200 to have enough prizes for staff that had earned an average amount.

The Auction

The incentive culminates with an Auction held after work on a Friday night. We provide food and drinks and has the CEO conduct the auction on our behalf. For staff to bid they needed to be present and this helps to create team bonds and a sense of belonging.

Our auction was a lot of fun with most people walking away with something for all of their hard work. We also got to see each other socially and this added to the concept of team work.

The Result

The great thing about this incentive is that it ran for 30 days. This is enough time to embed a change within people. Due to the incentive we had the following outcomes:

  • Attendance at work increased because people had got into a habit to be at work on time in order to win the Buck$
  • Scheduled adherence increased due to the campaign
  • People started to identify with a team and a Team Leader for the first time. We even started to see the early formation of team identify
  • This lead to an overall increase in turnover and accuracy in bet placement

For me the results of the campaign proved to me that incentives that are targeted on performance gaps do work. The second learning was that you don’t have to spend a lot of money (if anything at all) to run an incentive campaign, all it takes is a bit of time and energy.

Cheers Michael


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    • charmike4 profile image

      Michael Kromwyk 5 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

      Thanks jpcmc for the encouraging comments. This has worked for me in a couple of companies and it is something that I am sure we will use again. Thanks for your vote of confidence. Cheers Michael

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      This is just fantastic! I should try this with my department. Who knows, this can be a division wide activity. I really appreciate the info here. Voted up and clicked all the good stuff! I will definitely share this with my followers, officemates and friends.

    • charmike4 profile image

      Michael Kromwyk 5 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

      Thanks Pandula77 for your comments. I just bought the Friedman book on sales games & contests, will let you know if there are any good ideas from this as well in a future hub. Cheers Michael

    • pandula77 profile image

      Dr Pandula 5 years ago from Norway

      A very useful hub. Not only it gives an insight to a successful motivational campaign but also tickles the mind to think out of the box and apply ones self to achieve the desired goals.

    • charmike4 profile image

      Michael Kromwyk 5 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

      Thanks Billy for your quality comment. That is a great story about the factory and how a simple thank you and recognition made you feel good. As you mentioned in your hub small incentives and thank you's can make the world of difference. Cheers Michael

    • Bills Place profile image

      Billy Haynes 5 years ago from Paragould, AR

      Awesome, thanks for mentioning my hub by the way. I will add the link to this hub under the section about this idea. I used to work in a factory that makes plastic containers for companies like Glad, KFC and many more, they could sure use this idea to get people to do their jobs better. To get as much product each night as possible I would pack my parts and usually help the person on on the other side of the table too. I did not mind this if the person was new or I could tell they was doing their best to keep up (they usually had me on the fastest pack table there), however when you can tell they just don't want to try hard enough and you have to pick up their slack to hit production, it sucks...

      There was a couple times in a year and half I worked there my boss actually took the time to thank me for doing a good job. Usually the only thing that kept me working that hard was the operators themselves, if us packers did not do our part they wouldn't hit production and they would also get in trouble by the boss.

      My operator was the main one thanking me at the end of the night for helping him hit production, so it doesn't always have to be the boss to fill good about it. :)