Tag Archive for: performance-based incentive pay

How to Make Your Company Appealing to Minnesota’s Blue-Collar Workers

The United States is currently experiencing a blue-collar labor shortage, and Minnesota companies are feeling its effects.

Across all industries, there are currently more open positions than there are job seekers. Economists predict Minnesota will need more than 3 million workers by 2022 to keep up with the state’s economic growth but will likely fall short based on the current population. The crunch will hit industries reliant upon blue-collar workers especially hard.

There are a few reasons why we’re in the midst of a blue-collar job shortage. Baby boomers are approaching or past retirement age, meaning the largest living generation is no longer participating in the workforce in the same numbers as the previous decade. Many of today’s young workers opted for four-year colleges and are pursuing jobs in professional or public services, meaning there’s no incoming workforce to replace retirees.

How can you attract more candidates to your company’s blue-collar jobs and retain your current workers? Promoting learning opportunities and job security is key, but there are many factors that go into a blue-collar worker’s employment decision.

Attracting blue-collar workers to job openings

Blue-collar workers are looking for the same qualities in a good job that any job seeker wants. They want to apply for a position that offers:

  • • A competitive starting pay rate with opportunities for regular raises
  • • Medical, retirement and other benefits to supplement pay and protect employees in case they are unable to work
  • • Job security with reasonable protections from layoffs and a path that would easily allow their skills to translate elsewhere

One proven way to recruit new workers is through apprenticeships. In Minnesota, apprenticeships are on the rise, with 11,500 people participating in a program in 2017. The most common industry for apprenticeships is construction, but they are also a great tool for the manufacturing, technology, healthcare and agricultural fields. Apprenticeships allow you to train more people in your industry and create a direct pipeline for new employees.

Incentivizing blue-collar workers to remain in their jobs

If you’ve attracted great employees with the benefits above, you want to make sure you keep them happy with a productive, supportive workplace. Blue-collar workers tend to remain in their jobs or with their employer’s thanks to:

  • • A great work environment where employees enjoy their coworkers and the work that they do
  • • A schedule that allows workers a healthy work-life balance and flexibility when needed
  • • The opportunity to learn more skills that will allow the employee to advance at the company and/or take on new roles

To the second point, innovative shift scheduling will encourage current employees to take more second and third shifts and help attract more applicants to these positions. Attractive shift differentials, like paying an extra $1.25 an hour for less popular shifts, will help fill any staffing gaps.

Most importantly, workers want the opportunity to grow their careers. Bring knowledgeable blue-collar workers into the decision-making process. Offer opportunities for continuing education on middle-skill and highly skilled jobs. Work to promote the excellent work your employees do both within the company and to external media. Showing prospective and current employees you care about their growth will help you avoid a job shortage.

If you’re looking for hiring solutions to staff blue-collar jobs at your Minnesota company, Award Staffing is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about recruiting top talent.

Beyond Incentives and Bonuses

Two of our previous blogs, The Psychology of Incentives and Bonuses: The Downsides, discuss the not-so-positive aspects of incentive programs and bonuses. In fact, it might be time to step back and reconsider your employee bonus program. But, before you are too alarmed and scrap the entire bonus program, evaluate your options. Maybe the best option is to revise your current practices and offer alternatives.

Possible Revisions:

· While you may not be able to give 10% raises across the board, evaluate what you can do. The cost of turnover is high and the loss of top talent even more costly. If a little higher raise than you originally intended increases retention, it will cost you less in the end.
· Yes, employees want a fair wage, benefits, and the opportunity for rewards, but they also want to know how their responsibilities support the company mission and overall goals. Recognize performance, and goals reached. Provide timely feedback; a thank you, whether monetary or otherwise, that comes months after the fact loses its punch.
· If you choose to incorporate bonus program, keep it open to everyone, clearly communicate specific objectives and a well-defined process for both earning “points” and how the amount of a reward will be determined. Avoid a system that is too subjective.


There is more than one way to reward employees who are reliable, innovative, and focused, exhibiting a strong work ethic and completing their tasks correctly and on time. Employees who contribute both to company goals and an upbeat company culture.

Begin with words:

Begin with words of affirmation, recognition, and thank you’s –verbal and handwritten. Don’t hesitate to give public acknowledgment of exceptional work. It’s easy, low cost, and simple, but oh-so-vital to employee engagement. According to Engagement Stats by Lori McKnight (February 17, 2017):

· 69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized.
· Praise from a leader amplifies the positive impact:
· The more recognition programs you have, the better your results. 67% of company’s who offer multiple programs discovered that when the number of programs reached four, the perceived effect on employee engagement, motivation and satisfaction grew considerably.
· Employees want feedback…the good, bad and ugly. 60% of survey respondents would like daily – or at least weekly – feedback. (The number increased to 72% for those under thirty. Even though 75% felt that feedback is valuable, only 30% receive it.

Add small, and sometimes substantial gifts to in the moment awards. From an individual award to someone who went above and beyond to an entire team, or an entire shift, giving a reward in prompt response to exceptional service is much more effective than an end-of-the-year general bonus, based on profits. Don’t forget the front desk – the face of your business – that person who sets the tone for public opinion or the behind the scenes guy/gal who keeps everything running smoothly.

Offer additional benefits:

Of course, health care is an essential and 401Ks, or other retirement options are often expected, but there are many possibilities for perks and benefits. In fact, according to 2018 Employee Benefits and Perks, Statistics posted by Brandon Carter (Feb 20, 2018); 80% of employees who were extremely satisfied with their benefits also gave high rankings to their job satisfaction, and 65% of employees who were highly satisfied with their benefits said their over-all morale was equally high. Different things matter to different employees. Some companies find success in offering options and letting each employee choose which one – or more – fit their style. Possibilities include:

· Increasing telecommuting options
· Flexible shift times. 42% of adults said they’d jump ship for a flexible work option (Yoh)
· Financial help with continued education
· Opportunities to attend conferences or participate in webinars – surveys reveal that businesses with strong learning cultures have 30-50% higher retention.
· Time off with pay to participate in charitable activities for community organizations – It not only says I care about you, it says I care about our community.
· Extra PTO
· On-site childcare, work-out facilities, cafeterias with healthy choices, etc.
· Mentoring programs – 94% of workers who participate in a mentoring program say that the opportunity demonstrates the company’s commitment to their employees.
· Host company-wide events that include their partners/families – caring about the whole person and their life beyond work makes an impact.

In the end, the principle that connects incentive programs, bonuses, and alternatives and results in success is the personal aspect. When owners, management, and leaders actively care about their employees, through recognition, gratitude, reward, and equity, employees respond with loyalty. If you want your employees to engage in their work, support the company mission, and connect to each other in a congenial culture, it’s up to you to lead the way.

If you’re looking to hire new employees but don’t know where to start, contact Award Staffing. We will be able to help you find the right employees for your unique business needs. If you’re searching for more tips and trick on how to improve your company’s workforce, check out our hiring solutions blog.



Want to learn more about how Award Staffing can help your organization with your staffing and employment needs? Start by providing our team with a few pieces of information about yourself, and we will take care of the rest.

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8 Downsides to Employee Bonuses

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, July’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.9. Aside from 3.8 in May and 3.9 in the year 2,000, this is the lowest rate in nearly 50 years. In spite of those numbers, pay raises remain abysmally low.

Many companies have chosen the route of bonuses. In fact, Salary.com statistics reported in USA Today that while less than 65% of North American companies gave year-end bonuses in 2016, more than 75% did in 2017.  These bonuses come in a variety of styles, including:

· Spot bonuses – recognition for going above and beyond
· Individual incentive bonuses – a reward for meeting a goal – usually predesignated – also known as a performance-based bonus
· Profit-sharing – when a company shares a piece of overall company growth
· Referral bonuses – pay for referring a prospective candidate who hires on and stays at least the specified time
· Productivity bonuses – designed to inspire, and then award an entire team, department, manufacturing floor, etc.

At first glance, bonuses seem to be a positive, growing trend. After all, who doesn’t appreciate a generous employer who recognizes an employee’s contribution? And, there are several pros that support the bonus concept, such as the potential for:

· Happy employees
· Increased company morale
· Improved company reputation – which attracts talent

But wait, before you do the happy dance, let’s take another look. There is growing research that points to the downside of bonuses.

The Downsides:

1. Employees who are considering a job change may choose to wait until the bonus is received and then turn in his/her resignation. If a company distributes bonuses “across the board” of at least to multiple employees, a company may find themselves facing a mass exodus right after paying out a large sum of cash.
2. When bonuses are paid in groups, but at intermittent intervals, productivity may fluctuate according to the bonus. As Ruth Mayhew, an expert on HR subject matter, points out in a recent article for Bizfluent, “This up-and-down in motivation and productivity can be costly for employers.”
3. The case of unrealistic expectations: Particularly when considering year-end bonuses. Once they are given, employees tend to expect them. If a “flush” year is followed by a decrease in revenue, companies may end up with disappointed, unhappy employees, resulting in a loss of morale.
4. Adverse employee competition: While a little friendly competition can be a great productivity booster, tying bonuses to the game may create a negative culture, building antagonistic peer-to-peer interaction.
5. While dangling the bonus carrot may light the fire under some employees, others feel the pressure and backtrack. According to Gregory Hamel in a post for Chron, this can lead to an imbalance of employee input and hinder overall productivity and efficiency.
6. The reverse effect: Sometimes the promise of a hefty bonus becomes an incentive to cut corners, cheat, and cross ethical boundaries, rather than improve performance.
7. Holding back on salary and benefits in exchange for bonuses can be a turn off for potential talent. Whether an active or passive candidate, top-talent players are usually seeking to increase their salaries. If not, they are searching for flexibility, growth opportunities, etc. The promise of a potential bonus is low on their list.
8. While an employer’s bonus may be fueled by generosity, it can backfire on the employee at tax time. The IRS considers a bonus to be supplemental income and therefore, it’s taxed at a flat rate, which is usually higher than the rate on employee wages.


While a bonus program may have some benefits, including giving a boost to productivity, consider the big picture and weigh both the pros and the cons in the balance before making your final decision. In our next blog, we’ll discuss ways to avoid the negatives as well as positive alternatives.

If you’re looking to hire new employees but don’t know where to start, contact Award Staffing. We will be able to help you find the right employees for your unique business needs. If you’re searching for more tips and trick on how to improve your company’s workforce, check out our hiring solutions blog.



Want to learn more about how Award Staffing can help your organization with your staffing and employment needs? Start by providing our team with a few pieces of information about yourself, and we will take care of the rest.

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The Psychology of Incentives

Employee retention is a troublesome issue for most companies. In fact, many experts estimate that $11 billion is lost annually to employee turnover.

Additional statistics are equally alarming.

· 59% of US workers are likely to leave their jobs for new opportunities (Adobe)
· About 70% of Americans are disengaged at work (Gallup)

On the other hand, according to HR Dive, 75% of causes of employee turnover are preventable.


Many employers offer a performance-based incentive pay in an effort to build engagement – which lies at the root of retention – and company loyalty. Some incentive programs provide individual bonuses based on an employee’s achievements, while others offer profit-related pay, which is based on reaching goals company-wide. Various studies indicate the potential for success – especially with individual incentives, but in reality, employers must dig deeper for lasting change.

In order to build robust employee-engagement levels, companies must first understand what ‘makes people tick.’ For example, according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, every person has five basic needs that must be met before he/she can grow and succeed.

1. Physiological needs – food, water, breathing, shelter, clothing.
2. Security and safety needs – physical protection, health and wellness, financial security.
3. Social needs – family and friends, social and community or religious groups, all of which bring a sense of belonging.
4. Esteem needs – appreciation, value, respect.
5. Self-actualization – knowledge of who they are and confidence that they are fully using their talents, capabilities, and reaching their potential.

Incentives then must do more than offer pay for performance. They must tap into the needs of individuals. They must offer:

· Valence: something that is of personal value to the recipient.
· Instrumentality: the opportunity to be instrumental in the success of a program; the knowledge that he/she is connected to the big picture.
· Expectancy: the confidence that he/ she is capable of the task they are assigned; the goal they must reach to receive the reward.

When taking the needs of individuals into consideration, engaging/retaining your employees involves more than performance-based pay incentives. Consider this list of essentials.

According to a Modern Survey (2014), two of the strongest engagement drivers are the belief in senior leadership – how your C-suite conducts itself is crucial – and opportunities for growth and development. From this, we can conclude that:

· A management staff who connects to employees and upholds company policies, transparency, integrity, etc. from the top down is critical.
· Offering onsite training, encouragement for continued education via flexible work times and financial assistance, opportunities to participate in webinars, technology training, etc., and a promote-from-within-first policy are extremely effective

A PWC survey of Millennials reveals that 52% of Mills value career progression and 35% appreciate the quality training and development programs. These incentives support, rather than eliminate, financial-based incentives – which appeal to 44%.

Access to digital capabilities is another hot incentive. Various surveys and studies confirm that nearly 60% of those surveyed said they switched jobs to gain digital skills and 40% said they left because their current company did not keep up with state-of-the-art technology. Workers shared that the most significant factors in accepting and then staying with a position were a company’s use of the most up to date tools (80%), innovative culture (72%) and reputation as a leader in digitization (62%).


A company’s success in attracting, hiring, and then retaining talent correlates directly to their ability to engage their employees. Incentives play an influential role in engagement, but focusing only on performance-based incentives may be more detrimental than helpful. Successful incentive programs understand their employees’ needs, providing a safe place where they can connect and belong, earn a stable living, and actively participate in the company mission in a way that brings value, utilizes their personal abilities, and encourages growth.

If you’re looking to hire new employees but don’t know where to start, contact Award Staffing. We will be able to help you find the right employees for your unique business needs. If you’re searching for more tips and trick on how to improve your company’s workforce, check out our hiring solutions blog.



Want to learn more about how Award Staffing can help your organization with your staffing and employment needs? Start by providing our team with a few pieces of information about yourself, and we will take care of the rest.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.