Make Motivation & Rewards a Top Priority
By Emily Tipping
Choose the Right Rewards
At any time, there are two words that should guide your selection of awards for your program, according to Rodger Stotz: values and choice. "What are the values of your organization and your people?" he asked. "When you do a program design, you need to align the program with the values of your organization. The second thing is to allow—to the degree you can—the participant to have choice."
Gaia emphasized the unique or individualized experience as a constant key to successful rewards programs, regardless of the economic situation. "We think about it in terms of the things that continue to show up, things that create unique or individual experiences, things they cannot generally get on their own, the ability to create travel experiences or a combination of travel experiences with the destination and the shared experience of being recognized by the leadership of the company," he said.
Smith added that humanitarian and green awards might be appreciated at this time, but she emphasized that the awards don't necessarily change with the economic climate. "It's always important to make sure it's commensurate with the effort and that it really resonates with the audience," she said. "It doesn't matter if you like it, but what the audience will feel about that reward."
Above all else, you must align your program with the organizational culture and the business's strategy, Stotz said.
According to research from The IRF, while nearly half of the respondents (45 percent) in August said they were sensitive to perceptions of program extravagance to the extent that it would impact that type of company program awards and inclusions, that number had increased to 75 percent by October.
Whether you're trying to tone down your rewards' extravagance or not, it is a good idea to go beyond tangible rewards. Gaia said that sometimes a little recognition from the company leadership or the opportunity to sit down and talk with leaders can make a big difference. "People still have a need to believe that what they do and contribute matters," he said.
Smith cited creativity in award choice as one of the main strategies incentive planners are turning to in order to reduce the costs of their programs while maintaining their effectiveness. "If you have to trim your budget, you can look at some low-cost, no-cost awards," she said. "Some things that have been around for a while are gaining more attention, like giving people input on projects, giving them the opportunity to contribute on projects outside of their normal domain. Access to executives is a very big one, sought after by the younger generations, but very meaningful to everybody right now. …We're also seeing a lot more flex time, closer parking, telecommuting. Little things like that as a reward that the company may not have done much in the past are a great, low-cost way to acknowledge someone."
For the ultimate no-cost reward, just ask management to be sure to say please and thank you, Smith added. "Let people know you're appreciating their efforts," she said. "Even though it's low-cost and common-sense, we know it makes a world of difference."