A Guide To: Company Bonus Schemes


Bonus schemes have a lot to offer a company. They can help encourage innovation, build loyalty, boost productivity and play a role in tearing down silo walls. Different types of bonus schemes work in different ways, and as a result they can have different outcomes. Having a clear understanding of what you are trying to achieve and the way in which different tools can help you is more likely to lead to the result you want. 




There are three broad types of bonus scheme, those that are targeted at individuals, those targeted at teams and those offered to entire companies. Last week we discussed individual staff bonuses; click here if you missed it. This week it’s time to put team bonuses in the spotlight.


Team-based bonus schemes are very popular as they help to increase productivity and build a rapport both within a department and sometimes beyond.

How they work depends on the make-up of the team that is being rewarded, with different approaches working for teams of similar people and teams comprised of different roles.

1. Homogenous teams

It’s relatively easy to implement a bonus scheme for homogenous teams comprised of people in similar roles. As you would expect, they can work very much like individual bonus schemes, whether they are based on productivity, quality, target or a mixture of the three.

However this is managed, it’s an approach that encourages co-operation. The process can also help expose future leaders, the people that have an intrinsic grasp of the benefits of nurturing and supporting colleagues for the benefit of the entire team and the project they are focusing on.

Admittedly, quantifying the level contribution of each individual within the team can be a challenge. Enhancements in data and reporting however mean that contributions are more easily understood so bonuses can be distributed among team members more equitably and more transparently (if appropriate). This will help ensure the effectiveness of the strategy and long-term health of the team.


2. Diverse Teams

Enhancements in data have also meant that teams comprised of a diverse set of roles can now be rewarded for success on a team basis more easily. Whether it’s a team involved in a pitch that brings together sales, marketing and design, or a retail team that cross-sells between departments, information can be tracked and exceptional performance rewarded far more easily than it could be in the past.

This can have several benefits for an organisation. By rewarding people in less client facing roles, they are more likely to take a deeper interest in the success of a project, which could be particularly effective for people working in bid teams for example. It could also lead to a less siloed structure developing within the business, which in turn could lead to innovation being shared more widely.



Whichever way the team is defined; a reward system can be used either to create a positive environment within a department or an element of healthy competition between teams.

Measurement criteria can be defined through an efficiently managed annual review with clearly defined objectives, but as we have discussed in other articles, when a reward is delivered close to the behaviour that you are trying to encourage, it’s more likely lead to that behaviour being repeated. This becomes self-perpetuating because the brain associates the right sort of behaviour with a positive reward.

By rewarding a team, you are also likely to encourage a positive attitude to being in the office, reducing absenteeism by people knowing that they are being relied on to play their role. It could also play a role in reducing presenteeism – people coming into the office with a throat full of flu – because they are more likely to be able to rely on their team to move their work forward without them having to come into the office and cough over everyone.

Offering team rewards also gives senior leadership something to praise when it comes to annual reports to stakeholders or messages of commendation from on high. In the past, these have sometimes been perceived as being the result of the right team leader having the right line of communication to leadership, but in a world where great work can be quantified quickly and easily, being mentioned in dispatches is less likely to release a waft of cynicism from other parts of the business: there’s an agreed, quantified and transparent methodology for delivering recognition and rewards.

Better morale, better reporting, healthy competition and improved innovation across the business. There’s a lot to be said for team bonuses.

Read part three: A guide to company bonus schemes. Click here.

If you missed part one: A guide to individual staff bonuses, click here.

individual staff bonus schemes

A Guide To: Individual Staff Bonus Schemes


With ever-increasing workloads, seemingly shorter pay-packets and every second person suffering from the flu, it’s little surprise that many employees succumb to the temptation to hit snooze on the alarm clock and call in sick. So what can companies do to ensure that going in to work is a better option?

In our last article we discussed the day-to-day measures that need to be put in place for a company to have an effective sickness absence policy. In the second part of our two-part series, we look at more proactive strategies that companies can implement. 


Research shows that well motivated employees who enjoy high levels of job satisfaction, are more committed and less likely to succumb to the lure of the duvet day (or the temptation to interview for a job with a competitor).

Increasing autonomy where appropriate is a valuable staff motivation technique. It sends the message that team members are trusted and their contributions valued. And let’s face it, you are more likely to come up with innovative, time saving enhancements to a way of working if it’s your time you are saving. The fact that your time also happens to be the company’s time is secondary from an individual’s perspective.

It is also worth consulting with your employees on issues that affect them wherever possible. When people have been involved with a decision, they have a vested interest in a successful outcome and they are more likely to be committed to an environment where they feel that they have been given a stake in success.


If possible, give managers discretion to allow a reasonable degree of flexibility, for example, allowing an employee to come in an hour or so late to deal with a domestic issue and make up the time later. If the approach is implemented fairly and equally, it can help reduce sickies, improve employee relations and strengthen commitment.

Again, so long as it is used maturely, letting team members take an early lunch to beat the queues at the post-office should be appreciated and lead to a more committed workforce.

It’s also worth contemplating amending policies during major sporting events like the World Cup or the Olympics, extending the working day so that, for example, individuals can decide to watch a football match during work time without any loss of productivity from the company’s perspective (so long as they are not disrupting colleagues).


Everybody needs recognition that their contribution is meaningful and appreciated. Implementing an employee recognition scheme that offers rewards based on achievement and empowers colleagues to thank one another can be a powerful way to tangibly invigorate engagement and optimise performance.

The effectiveness of a recognition scheme depends on timeliness of delivery, the ability to link recognition to corporate goals or values and the appeal of any rewards on offer – gift cards or digital rewards are a popular choice as they offer great choice to the employee.

The current generation of social recognition platforms means that this doesn’t need to be complicated to implement or require a high degree of management or administration time.


Attendance incentives or bonuses are sometimes used to reward good attendance records as part of a broader absence management programme.

It’s an approach that requires careful consideration and planning so as not to disadvantage employees who have to take time off sick because of a disability or a pregnancy-related illness (both of these groups are protected in law), but there are plenty of ways of making sure that it is implemented fairly and with sensitivity. Again, the current generation of online reward platforms can support this type of approach with minimal implementation or administration time.


A little stress affects us all from time to time – but too much pressure can manifest itself in physical symptoms and evolve into serious illness that can lead to a protracted absence, removing resources and expertise from the workplace.

One effective counter-measure is to train line managers to look out for signs of stress among employees and try and find ways to help their teams cope better with the demands of their job. Encourage managers to use both formal and informal performance conversations to keep a check on how well teams are coping with their workload so that they can provide advice and support where needed.

Create a culture where people feel comfortable about approaching their managers and openly discuss any problems or concerns they have about work.


It’s a simple thing (and all the more difficult for that) but encouraging senior management to be visible at all levels of the business can also be a good way of encouraging engagement.

There’s always a risk that being too visible could lead to senior leaders being cornered by shop-floor workers with trivial complaints about lack of soap in the bathroom, but the chances are that if staff feel that they are being listened to by their line managers, they’ll see any interactions with senior management as an opportunity to shine not vent steam.



Conducting regular workplace surveys is a good way of understanding where your company is and where it can improve. Technology enhancements mean that these don’t have to be time consuming to create, distribute or complete, but the data that they provide can be very useful, particularly when compared year-on-year.

It can also help you understand which members of your management and leadership team are particularly good at creating engaged team members, which can help inform discussions around pay review time.

Creating an engaged workforce that has less of a tendency to take unwarranted sickness absence can seem like a difficult task, but like many things in life, it starts by taking a few simple steps. Put the right polices in place and make some mild behaviour changes and you could quickly find an improvement in morale at all levels of the business. A happier workplace with a strong sense of community and purpose is one that people will want to come to, even when the warmth of a cosy duvet calls.