Characteristics of Bonus Incentive Plans

Too often, owners only discover that the compensation plans they’ve put in place for key employees are sadly inadequate when those key employees leave their companies for greener pastures. The departure of one or more of these key employees not only complicates your daily business life, but it can slam shut the door on your exit plans. Without experienced management in place, you may find it very difficult (if not impossible) to leave your business in style.
Key employees are aptly named not only because they are key to the efficient and profitable operation of your business; they are also key to your departure. No one will want or be able to run your business without you, unless key management remains after your departure.
How then does an owner manage to keep key employees on board? Rather than tie them to the mast, many owners install Employee Incentive Plans that motivate them to stay. In doing so, owners also work to achieve the goal of ensuring their successful exits.
We have identified four characteristics common to successful bonus plans. They:

  • Are specific, not arbitrary,and are in writing;
  • Are tied to performance standards;
  • Make substantial bonuses; and
  • Handcuff the key employee to the business.

Let’s look at each briefly:

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