An Inside Perspective: Kenya And Incentive Programmes

As pointed out in our previous article on Kenya and Incentive Programmes, this East and Central African power-house are making waves not only in the local markets but also in the international economic community. It is no exaggeration to assert that Kenya is quickly moving towards being a veritable African emerging market. Development is rapidly moving the country from strength to strength, and local businesses are growing at a phenomenal pace. In this competitive environment, incentives may just be the tool to give any enterprise the much needed competitive edge. This is to say that the correct incentive programme motivates employees, drives sales, increases morale and aids in the retention of talented employees.

In terms of business etiquette, Kenyan culture values interpersonal relationships rather than impersonal and digital exchanges of information. It is therefore imperative that foreigners operating in the region build strong interpersonal relationships with partners before discussing business proposals. It should also be borne in mind that whereas many Kenyans have “day jobs”, several also embark on business ventures in their own time.

The latter fact speaks to the fact that Kenyans are, by nature, hard workers and have a natural flair for the entrepreneurial spirit. This spirit, in turn, has had a profound effect on the Kenyan economy as a whole: diligence and innovation are highly prized virtues.

Prominent Kenyan Business People and Their Secret to Success:

Chris Kirubi – Industrialist, Media Tycoon. He is passionate about youth mentorship and personally engages with young Kenyans through differing media: he has his own radio show, a personal twitter account, and a Facebook account.

Bob Collymore – CEO of Safaricom. Collymore leads Kenya’s largest Telecom company, Safaricom. Its success is not just in the creation of the revolutionary M-pesa, but also in the branding of Safaricom as a proudly Kenyan company. Safaricom and M-pesa are now as Kenyan as Tea!

Manu Chandaria – Industrialist. He leads the Comcast Group which, for over 60 years, has successfully focused on core products essential to every African’s life. The Comcast Group produces aluminium for sufurias (cooking pots) and mabati roofing, while also producing steel and plastics. It’s hard to find a Kenyan home without at least one of his company’s products.

How Can Incentives Add Value to a Business?

Like many workers around the world, Kenyans appreciate acknowledgement from their peers, but tangible awards need to be meaningful, too: that is, in addition to public recognition from their bosses or executives, employees also need rewards that add value to their lives.

Incentives are often based on the level of a professional within an organisation. This is to say that entry-level Kenyan employees are much more responsive to cash or M-pesa awards whereas mid-level employees are motivated by gifts such as cell phones and vouchers. It should be noted, however, that company culture can be very family-oriented, so praise from an executive is similar, in a sense, to a parental figure’s approval. Executive-level employees are motivated by rewards such as travel trips that speak to status and exclusivity.

Incentives further provide value to organisations as they are a means for company leaders to engage with their employees in a significant and cost-effective way. The keyword here is “engagement”: employers that are disengaged will not receive answers as to why their employees are not motivated, nor will they be able to build employee morale. If, however, an incentive program is in place, employers will be able to clearly ascertain how employees want to be recognized and motivated. This, in turn, will increase employee performance.

Currently, incentives are a somewhat novel concept in the country’s business environment, and businesses that identify their value stand to gain through higher productivity rates. Another area of improvement will be in the stronger relationships developed within the various power structures.

Incentives in Kenya can, undoubtedly, add to a company’s performance levels, assist with brand development, and raise customer loyalty. These latter elements give any business a competitive edge over organisations operating within the same market.

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