Editor's Desk - January/February 2009

Take Time for Renewal

U.S. payrolls cut more than a half-million jobs in December, raising unemployment to its highest level in nearly 16 years.

Retail sales for December 2008 drop 4 percent from the previous year, despite desperate cost-cutting and sales to lure shoppers into stores.

Housing market collapses—commercial real estate market in trouble.

Analysts predict market won't pick up again until 2010.

And so onů


he seemingly endless ticker of negative economic news can really bring you down, can't it? Wave after wave of bad news in the second half of 2008 may have you looking for a light at the end of the tunnel, but if the economic experts are to be believed—and who knows what to believe these days?—the end is not coming this year.

But despite all of this, life still goes on, business must continue, and you still must figure out how to motivate and engage your targets—your workforce, your sales force, your partners and your customers—with incentives, rewards and recognition. And this is despite the fact that your own motivation may be flagging.

So as you make your plans for 2009, trying to take into account the economic turmoil that may be impacting your own and others' motivation, as well as the business's needs and potential budget cuts, take a moment. Take a step back. Take a breath.

After all, this is a new year, and while many of us create resolutions and will tackle 2009 with an unshakable confidence that we will get healthy, get our e-mail under control at last, finally send those thank-you notes, put the growing pile of laundry away, (insert your goals here), a new year also represents a time to step back and take stock of our lives.

This is equally true in our careers, and now is a good time to check yourself and renew your commitments and goals.

So take 10 minutes now—right now!—and turn away from the page, look away from your inbox, and think about what you accomplished in 2008, and what you'd like to accomplish in 2009.

Now, if you're reading these pages, you likely know the value of well-timed and thought-out recognition and motivation programs, but if you're struggling with how to put those programs together, or if you're facing budget cuts and don't know where to start, we'd like to offer a helping hand—at least to get the wheels turning:

  • If you're in the precarious position of defending your program from budget cuts, or if you're looking for low-cost ways to keep the motivation rolling, turn to page 24 and learn what the experts are saying about the value of incentives, rewards and recognition.
  • If you want to make your program more personal and relevant to the individual participants, check out the story on page 20, where we ask industry leaders for advice on motivating and rewarding individuals.
  • If you've been forced to cut your cash bonuses and are looking for ways to smooth the transition, check out the Insider column on page 38 for some advice on getting started.
  • If you'd like to tempt your taste buds and please your participants' palates, turn to the feature on page 14 for tips on using gourmet food as a gift or incentive.
  • If you're looking for something new on these pages, flip to page 28, where we introduce a new department, Case in Point. This new addition for 2009 will explore the ins and outs of successful incentive, reward and recognition programs. You can see how you measure up, and get great ideas for making your own program a sure success.
  • If you're still stymied, just page through the entire issue, where you'll find many ideas to help you get your program rolling in 2009, from the basics of program design and connecting with strategy, to merchandise ideas that will fit your program's budget and target audience.

Here's to a happy and prosperous 2009!


Emily Tipping, Editorial Director
Premium Incentive Products magazine


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