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Bonus Systems – Could They Work For Your Small Business?

Following on from our post last week about retaining staff, I had a few questions about bonus systems and how they work. Incentivising staff is a great way to increase productivity and help keep your employees satisfied within their job, and the bonus doesn’t always need to be financial.

Bonus Systems – Could They Work For Your Small Business

Bonus systems have long been used in larger corporations, and within sales teams, to help keep staff focused and productive. You may not have thought about using bonuses within your trade business, but in my experience they can have a huge positive effect on your businesses productivity.

We’ve tried several ways to incentivise our staff, all with great levels of sucess. Let’s explore how they could work for you.

Set The Target

Before you even think about what the incentive is, set the target. It might be as simple as you’ve allowed 2 days to do a job, but you would like to get it done within 1 1/2, or you might need your sales team to write x amount of new business before the end of the month. For tradies, you may choose to target some of your problem areas, for example site cleanliness or sick days. All of these areas can be effectively controlled with the use of incentives.

Once your target is set, you can then determine the right incentive to put in place for your team.


Financial rewards are always well received. We’ve used them when we felt productivity was slipping, for example the team was taking too long to deliver a job or quality was slipping. In those cases we understand that time equals money, so we would sit the team down and set a target with them. It might be that we have allowed 5 days to get the framing done, but we really need it done in 4, so we set a bonus that will be paid if they get the job done, with no questions regarding the quality, in the 4 days.

But you have to make it worth their while, for us and one day saved, we would pay them a half day bonus. So if their daily rate was $500, their bonus would be $250. Over the course of a job, we could save not only time, but money, as half that extra days wages, stayed in our kitty!

Time Off

We had great success with early Friday finish times. We wouldn’t do them every week, usually fortnightly so we could measure and ensure that it really was driving productivity. Nothing gets your team working harder, than knowing they can go home early on a Friday afternoon.

Important to note, that we always had an expectation of more work being achieved than what we thought was possible in the afternoon. On a Monday, when we set the work load for the week, we’d have a look at what needed to be done by the following week, and if we thought it was possible to speed the process up a bit. That is how we then created our target.

The team would work that bit harder to get their paid afternoon off, and if they were particularly productive, we’d shout them a beer at the pub on the way home. (lite beer of course!)

Holiday Incentives

Another idea we trialed, was to increase the holiday time a staff member was entitled to. This worked best around Christmas when were all trying to get as much done as possible before the shutdown period. It would often involve us giving a few extra days paid leave. It worked well when we were trying to finalise a job before the New Year, as we all came back fresh and motivated to start the new job.

Gift Cards

Tool gift cards also worked well. Our team was pretty proud of their stuff and often striving towards the latest and greatest tool, so we tried giving bonuses that involved a gift card from Bunnings or Total Tools. This incentive worked really well when we helped foster a bit of healthy competition around their tools and their trailers which also worked in our favour for increased productivity!

Bonuses really can be paid in any way that works in with your business. Get a little creative and work with your team to find ways to keep them working towards common goals. These types of incentives are a great way to say thank you for what you are doing.

Have you ever received a bonus? What kind of bonus would get you working harder?

Nicole xxx




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