Feature Article - September/October 2010

All-Star Lineup

Building Your Incentive & Rewards Team

By Deborah L. Vence


No magic formula exists for building an incentive and reward team—between the client and provider—but, even so, such a team should possess the appropriate skills and background in order to design the most effective incentive program.

"An ideal team will bring together resource provider members with a wealth of experience in methodologies for successfully designing incentive and recognition programs to achieve various goals within predetermined budgets and timelines, with client team members who are well-versed in the client's industry market, the program participants, and the technology and operational workings of the organization," said Michelle M. Smith, CPIM, CRP and vice president of business development for Salt Lake City-based O.C. Tanner, a company that provides employee recognition awards and programs for service, sales, performance and employee motivation services.

An incentive and reward team often is called a program design or program solution team, and is put together after a client and a resource provider agree to move forward in creating an incentive or recognition program.

"The team is made up of members from both the client's and the resource provider's staffs. Their mission is to work together to design an effective program that can be executed within the client's budget parameters and that will meet the client's objectives for the program," Smith explained.

When building an incentive and reward team, companies also need to take into account that the structure of such a team is more intricate today because of the fact that the workplace and workforce are much more complex than they were several years ago.

"We have a much more culturally diverse workplace and four generations of workers, who are increasingly scattered throughout the globe. Telecommuting, job sharing and job insecurity are norms these days. All these factors add complexity to an incentive or recognition program design solution and need to be considered by the team," Smith said.

"Additionally," she said, "we're in the midst of recovering from a deep economic recession that restructured many organizations and devastated employee morale. Incentive and reward teams need to be astutely aware of these issues and how they are playing out in the organization, and the potential impact they may have on the program design. Candid and accurate information becomes even more vital when dealing with added complexity, and that puts additional pressure on the team to maintain open lines of communication and to give the project the time and attention it requires."

Taking that into consideration, companies can construct an effective incentive and reward team, in part, by ensuring that they include key team members with the most fitting professional skills and qualifications, as explained by some top industry experts.