Assuming that they are receiving a basic salary, perhaps you could move the focus away from individual targets and encourage more team based targets? It might also be useful to add other benefits to their terms of employment, for example, flexible working hours, an additional holiday to take on their birthday etc…
Some organisations have already moved away from individual rewards to team based rewards
Sales commission can be one of the first cuts to be made in difficult times. Prior to withholding commission, you may want to check a couple of things to keep you safe:
Is there a contractual element to the commission payment? What was agreed at recruitment? What has been the custom and practice of commission payment? Will non payment have any legal risk?
What are your competitors doing? Does the change affect how competitive your package looks compared to your competitors
If you are comfortable what you are doing doesn’t pose a legal risk and won’t mean mass exodus of your team (recruitment, missed opportunity, destabilising customers, loss of orders whilst recruiting and learning curve costs will often be far higher than maintaining an existing commission scheme) then look creatively at how you can really engage with your employees, create or improve your sense of team and fun whilst retaining and increasing brand loyalty:
Can you stretch clothing allowances or colleague discounts without hurting your margin?
Friends and family sample sales - often the sales team miss out on sample sales as they are out of the office - could you change time to allow them to attend - maybe on a Monday afternoon after trading meetings?
Can you upgrade company cars with little impact on leasing costs?
Create a sense of theatre on a chosen day when everyone is in the office: have the MD hand out doughnuts and coffee, fresh fruit, hot bacon rolls as colleagues come into work
Are there low cost high value benefits you can offer employees e.g. childcare vouchers that will ‘plug the gap’ on the missed commission and retain colleague loyalty; reciprocal discount across affiliated companies e.g. where you have a concession?
Can you introduce a flexible benefit package to allow your team to choose the benefits which have the most value according to an employee’s circumstances/lifestyle?
We had a similar question regarding recognition and some of these measures might be useful:
Try setting up a ‘hall of fame’ in an area where the team come in and out of work with an employee of the day, week, month, year with a handsigned certificate for employee of the day, coffee and cake for employee of the week building up to an extra day’s or half day’s leave, early finish one day as long as they don’t incur indirect costs of losing your peak performers.
Recognition is often as important as the reward itself, sometimes measures as simple as a mention in your daily team meeting is as effective as a monetary reward. One manager I worked with had a pack of bright fluorescent stars with a D.W.D (Damn Well Done) written on it that would be placed in a prominent place on the colleague’s PC.
Do think about the behaviours that support your culture and try to balance your attention on not just what was achieved but how it was done for maximum impact.
NB some awards and incentives have a taxable benefit impact, so you might want to be aware of this.