The Incentive Research Foundation funds and promotes research to advance the science of motivation and incentives in business and industry globally. Their goal is to increase the understanding, effective use, and resultant benefits of incentives to businesses and others interested in improved performance.
With the majority of all U.S. businesses (84%) now using non-cash awards, and most top performing businesses (those with the highest revenue growth, customer satisfaction, and employee satisfaction) saying their executives support their non-cash recognition and reward programs as a competitive advantage, the eminent need to understand how to create effective programs becomes clear.
The Elements of Successful Non-Cash Reward Programs
To this end, The Incentive Research Foundation analyzed several years of relevant research to identify noteworthy design elements for effective non-cash recognition and reward programs. The following are the five key design elements they identified:
1. The earning and selection criteria for the reward were clearly tied to business objectives.
2. Communication about the program and the progress participants were making toward goals was clear and consistent. Anticipation built throughout the year and kept employees motivated to achieve their objectives.
3. The design of the travel program, including desirable destinations, interactive sessions and leisure time for the earners, added to the overall excitement.
4. Executives and key managers acted as hosts to reinforce the company’s commitment to the reward program and recognition.
5. The company kept detailed records that prove the productivity of the earners and their contributions to the company’s financial performance.
It’s clear from the IRF case study findings above that employees are motivated by both the incentive travel award they can earn and the recognition afforded to them by corporate leaders when they participate in the event. It is also evident that incentive travel programs aid in the retention of excellent employees who are top performers for a company. Organizations like the one in this study, that consider the expense of the program an investment in their employees and a means to maximize business outcomes, are using this tool to its full potential.
A Note to Planners and Owners
At Premier Meeting Services, we have found that our most effective travel incentive programs start with a partnership between our planners and the company executives asking for our help. The active participation of management in the planning and execution of incentive travel programs is essential to the overall success of these programs. From clarifying goals to selecting participants to hosting the event, executive affirmation is the magic success ingredient that guarantees positive employee response. When owners ask us how we can assure them of a reasonable ROI on their travel incentive program, we respond that ROI usually depends on how much they are willing to participate. The success of YOUR program is up to YOU.