The crux of our project was developing a new incentives plan for the retail staff at the Tower of London, to boost revenues made from the sales of guidebooks, Gift Aid and of memberships to HRP. While the sales and retail staff were extremely satisfied with the functioning of the current financial incentives plan, it had come to the notice of the Human Resources department that the plan was not agreeable to the unions (which the staff members were members of). Another reason for introducing a new plan, was to boost figures on sales - as the Tower of London management believed that revenues in sales could be higher than what was currently being achieved.
The initial process developed by us was simple - we started by meeting with the HR Manager at the Tower and understanding his vision and the output that he expected from us. His initial desire was for us to meet with other HR Directors in institutions similar to that of HRP - galleries, museum and the like; to gain a perspective from them on what kind of incentives were used in their organizations. Surprisingly, none of the other organizations had similar plans in place - which left us to innovate and come up with a plan that was unique in nature.
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The first step in designing this incentive plan - would be to identify what motivates individuals to perform at the Tower. Being a sales-oriented team, we clearly had to concentrate on making the incentives attractive enough to motivate employees into performing well above the.
Thus we began with talking to employees at the Tower of London and getting their point of view on the changing of incentive plans. To begin with, most of the junior retail staff was very satisfied with the current incentive plan that was in place, except with the functioning of the scheme - they complained about delays in receiving their incentives from HR. This aside, most staff were adamantly against any kind of change in this incentives system.
The union representative in the Tower of London, who also happened to be an admissions manager, presented us with her views on what the incentives plans should be like. From the point of the view of the union, she did agree that the current structure was not in keeping with the Union's views on incentives. Given this, the manager is also one of the senior managers in-charge of the retailing staff - and was extremely satisfied with the current system, and believed that it was working very well for the staff. Thus, her solution to this was to was not to speak too much of the plan at the Union meetings - not wanting the Union to raise concerns with the Tower of London management about the nature of incentives that were provided.
The view of the above mentioned manager was also shared by other senior managers at the Tower. They all believed that the system was fine and were not interested in bringing any drastic changes to the rewards processes at the current moment, unless absolutely necessary.
A consequent study of the responses of all these stakeholders was then undertaken to reveal what formed the basis for our study. We picked up on three key issues upon which our solutions for a new plan were based - that the staff definitely wanted financial incentives and not non-financial incentives, that the supervisors needed to get some form of incentives and that the group structure could be used to a greater advantage to motivate individuals.
It is best to make a choice between plans rather than present just one plan and make decisions based on that. That was what prompted our decision to design three incentive plans, all very different from each other - one based purely on financial incentives, another on non-financial incentives, and finally the third one being a plan which amalgamates both financial and non-financial incentives.
To begin with, one of the obvious options was to continue with a plan similar to that which the Tower of London had been following till now. The incentive plan used over the last few years in the Tower was purely financial in nature. The plan included sales targets for individual staff members which were to be achieved in an unspecified time period. On achievement of targets, staff members were awarded gift vouchers to a store of their choice for a value of GBP 50. In line with this, the other kinds of financial incentives that could be offered are: a cash incentive, gift vouchers or even paid holidays. Keeping the Tower of London in mind - this scheme is much better to operate on for individuals rather than on groups - it might prove to be to expensive otherwise.
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Moving on, we considered non-financial incentives a viable option as well. Our suggestions for non-financial incentives can be more creative and ranged from awarding staff to meals with the senior management, having bonus holiday hours to gift certificates, recognition amongst peers and boxes of chocolates. The advantages of having such a system are very obviously savings for the company - these options are definitely much cheaper and then having a financial incentive scheme. These schemes are also easier to operate for groups.
Finally, we strove to create a balance between the above mentioned plans - which would, most importantly satisfy all stake holders concerned.
To understand and categorize the needs of individuals and to identify what motivates them, we used Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow had said that once the basic physiological needs have been fulfilled, individuals move onto other needs which need to be fulfilled such as the need for self-actualization, safety needs and esteem needs.
Emphasis was also put on group working and the merits we could draw from it in designing the hybrid incentive plan. Perhaps one of the limitations of working with groups within the sales teams at the Tower of London is that within the sales teams at the Tower of London is that the teams are all disproportionately sized, and to foster any kind of competitive spirit would mean that the teams should have equal numbers. One of the ways of sorting through this issue could mean proportionately dividing group targets to compensate for inadequate numbers.
Another reason for focussing so strongly on groups in this case was because we saw this as an ideal situation to implement non-financial incentives for employees - as these incentives would be much more valid in the context of groups rather than for individuals.
Finally, in terms of satisfying all the stakeholders in the incentives plan - it became obvious to us that the third plan - the amalgamation of financial and non-financial incentives was ideal. The plan involves setting individual sales targets for the members of the retails staff - and giving the work groups cumulative targets, over and above that, which will be rewarded by non-financial incentives. The plan while all encompassing, does present a few logistical problem, the main one being administration for Human Resources.
Motivation has thus played a very vital role in the choice of final recommendation for the incentive plan that we made for the Tower of London to use. We used the concepts of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation extensively to define individuals would react to different kinds of incentives and ultimately what would inspire optimal performance from employees in the given setting at the Tower.
While interviewing employees, another concern that had been raised was that they were not being effectively communicated with when incentive plans were formulated, when any sort of changes were being made, and when faced with delays in the rewards process (incentives vouchers were almost 3 months behind schedule). We believe that for our incentive plan to be successful, free-flowing channels of communication are necessary within the Tower of London. To achieve this, we enclosed a draft of a communication plan - essentially meant for better communication between the senior management at the Tower of London and the junior retail and sales staff.
The entire process was captured through surveys and different questionnaires prepared for employee across levels within the Admissions & Ticketing Department. The questionnaire did manage to encapsulate the desired results i.e. the employees expressed their opinions about the current system and about the introduction of a non-financial sales incentive system in the future. We also learnt about the communication gaps prevalent in the organization and within the department as well, this helped us devise a downward communcation plan, including staff from across the organization in order to maintain consistency and clariy in communication. The method used by us also helped the employee speak their mind as it was an open-ended questionnaire, it did not bind them which helped us achieve what we were aiming for. As mentioned earlier, there was a separate questionnaire devised for each level of employees keeping their responsibilities and status in the department in mind, this helped us identify the root-cause of the entire issue. It also pointed out the unequal distribution of powers within a certain level of employee and also the inconsistency of informations flow across the levels of employees. Along with the positive aspects of our methodology, there were certain weaknesses as well. Firstly, an absence of a statistical method made the analysis and results less reliable. Secondly, the questionnaire more open-ended in nature, which created room for a lot of ambiguity leading to unclear results,thereby leading to inaccurate anaylsis. Open-ended questionnaire leaves it to the discretion of the employee hence it would not yield the desired results. Lastly, while the interviews were being conducted, all the employees across all levels were interviewed one after the other, which could give rise to manipulation of data, as they could internally discuss the questionnaire before giving the interview. Thus reducing the credibility of the survey results and analysis. There were several ways to improve the process, starting with inclusion of a partially close-ended questionnaire,which would be the right blend of flexbility and rigidity. This way we would get to understand what the employee reallys feels about the process and the close-ended questions would help us stabilise the procedures and policies. Secondly, statisical method could have been used in order to analysis the survey results, this would lead to more credible results as it is backed scientifically. Lastly, the interview process could have been divided in order to maintain confidentiality and at the same time avoid manipulation of data. If these points were kept in mind, the research results could have been more accurate than it already is. While conducting research, the employer as well as the employee's needs should be kept in mind. By doing so, the final results will be fairly balanced and reveal the real issues and other subsequent issues along with it as well, which would not have been identified otherwise. We identified one of the major issue by conducting a 360 degree survey, which wouldn't have been identified if we had only interview the upper management or lower management. An organization comprises of employee across all levels hence it is extremely important understand each one's needs and opinions is very crucial, as they are real assets of the organizations and they determine the organizations success to a great extent. The common mistake made by researchers is that they often ignore the lower management and only consider the opinion of the upper and to an extent the middle management. By doing so, they are not only disrespecting the lower management by making them fele less important within the organization but also putting the organizations success on stake. As we realised after this project that the lower management, are the most important as they execute all that is planned by the upper management, failure to execute could lead to disastorous results. Thus it is very important to consider their opinions and derive the plans keeping it mind as they are the final receivers of the system.
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