epending on who you listen to, we're either just beginning to see signs of a turnaround in the economy, things are already on the upswing, or the world is about to end. (I did mention that it depends on who you listen to.)
But seriously, many business leaders are starting to see signs of growth and hope that the economy is working its way—gradually and slowly, yes—out of the doldrums. And that's good news for all businesses, because as we all have heard many times, a rising tide lifts all boats.
But why hang out in the boat? Why wait for the rising tide? Why not swim out ahead of everyone else and surf that next wave in to shore?
Motivation is the key. Not only motivating yourself to change your head-in-the-sand mindset, but motivating your workforce to look for ways to do things better, to be more innovative, to change one small thing and make a big impact.
Motivating people to go above and beyond the call of duty, and encouraging them to suggest new ideas, is the smartest strategy in a business environment where everyone else is just holding on for dear life, waiting for that tide to come and lift their boats out of the maelstrom.
So as the economic indicators just begin their turnaround, it's worthwhile to place a new emphasis on the importance of motivating people and rewarding them for sticking with you in tough times, and now for coming up with the next new brilliant idea that's going to make your business or organization more effective, more profitable, more successful. The idea that's going to enable you to surf out ahead of the competition and get your feet on dry land before they've ever even considered lifting their anchor.
If your incentive, reward and motivation programs have fallen by the wayside during the recession, now might be the perfect time to yank that anchor out of the water again and set sail for the high seas.
Want another reason to get a jump on the competition by kicking your rewards and incentives programs back into high gear? People have long memories. Your employees will remember that they stuck with you and brought new ideas that helped turn things around, but were not rewarded for it. On the flipside, they'll also remember if you recognized their effort. Your sales force won't forget that you cut out their incentive travel when the going got tough. When the going gets good again, don't be surprised if they jump ship and swim over to the competition's boat. Your partners and customers won't forget that you just coasted, relying on their loyalty. If you don't appreciate them with good service and care, they might look for someone who will.
If you're ready to get started, that's great! This month, we have plenty of tools on these pages to help you ensure your incentive and rewards programs are effective.
First of all, you can't keep your programs running well if you don't measure their effectiveness. That would be like trying to steer your ship without any navigation tools. To help you get started on providing the value of your programs, turn to page 32 and read "Measuring Up: Reframing Incentives & Rewards to Emphasize ROI."
When you're ready to fill your tool chest with smart strategies to keep your programs running smoothly, you'll want to learn more about technology and communication. On page 48, we talk about some of the ways technology is boosting programs' effectiveness, and on page 50 we talk about starting out strong—and staying strong—with a communication strategy that works.
Finally, you want to be sure to offer incentives and rewards that truly motivate. In the down economy, many people are returning to core values, and that means more time with family and friends. Sporting goods and recreational items make perfect rewards in this climate. Not only are they products people might have been forced to cut from their budgets as they tightened their belts, but they also support a healthy lifestyle and the "staycation" model that has become so popular. We examine some trends in this area of the market beginning on page 36.
And for an overview of what's hot in merchandise incentives right now, turn to page 42 to see which trends are taking center stage.
And don't forget, hang ten!