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Does your incentive program stink?

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SmartPulse — our weekly reader poll in Smartbrief on Workforce — tracks feedback from leading managers and HR practitioners. We run the poll question each Wednesday in our e-newsletter.

Last week, we asked: Have you ever had an employee incentive program that backfired?

  • Yes, and it wasn’t pretty – 50%
  • No — we try to catch that before it happens – 27%
  • I don’t know – 22%

Back in a previous job, I was part of creating a sales incentive program that backfired big time. We ended up losing about 5% of our clients because they weren’t buying the products that made our sales representatives the most money and thus were not getting serviced. In principle, it was a good idea but we sat too long waiting for it to improve before we finally scrapped it and started over. Many of us have been in that situation and the best thing to do sometimes is to cut the program sooner rather than later.

Lance Haun is community director for, the main guy over at and a member of the SmartBrief on Workforce Advisory Board.