Feature Article - March/April 2018

One Size Does Not Fit All

Experts Talk Individualization Strategies for Incentives

By Deborah L. Vence

How to Motivate People

The best way to motivate and reward people as individuals is to make the reward relevant with that person's life, Thiegs said. "This requires understanding the demographic of your program's audience, too," he said.

"For instance, if you have a high percentage of members in your rewards program between the ages of 20 and 30 that live in metropolitan areas, adding the Uber gift card to your program would be ideal," he said. "When programs understand the different end user segments, it's easy and fun to tailor an award catalog that offers up the most relevant and exciting options to incentivize and motivate behavior."

Meanwhile, Purdy said that he's not sure that the role of business is to simply please people. Instead, great businesses work to provide the very best work environment as well as a culture of appreciation, which in turn creates a more highly engaged workforce.

"Rewarding within this type of culture becomes much broader than simply monetary rewards, it really begins with defining workplace goals along with regular measurement at an individual, team, department and company-wide level so that management can measure the level of engagement and overall program success," Purdy said.

Companies with higher engagement scores don't get there by chance. "They have worked to create an engaged workplace which is always a top-down commitment. In the end rewarding employees will include added time off, child care support or even on-site child care services which is growing very quickly as a major work perk," he said. "Added time off to help care for aging parents, on-site subsidized lunches, health care and fitness centers are just a few of work perks being used to both recruit and retain employees and these are often built into corporate engagement programs as well."

Today, companies are taking a much broader view of how they motivate and engage their workforce, and this isn't at the expense of formal incentive and recognition programs.

"In fact, we are seeing a rapid evolution of 'engagement technology' becoming the hub that delivers all of these services," Purdy said. "At Carlton One we see recognition technology as the cornerstone to engagement across all employees, sales teams and end customers because each of these stakeholders needs to be fully engaged.

"Today's technology is designed to engage and reward all stakeholders and doing this well will produce significant competitive advantages for companies that look to design a fully integrated,

company-wide engagement program. One central solution, uniquely tailored to each stakeholder group, is the future for Engagement technology."

Krichman suggested that companies "Be conscious of what's important to today's consumer, and make sure your program offers a way to reward, recognize and engage in ways that are long-lasting. Using merchandise for programs is a key component as people will incorporate them into their daily lives.

"They'll always remember it was your organization that gave them the TV they watched when A-Rod got his 3,000th hit, and they'll think of your company every time they wear their power necklace to a board meeting or to give an important presentation," Krichman said.

What's more, keep things new and exciting to keep people engaged. For example, interactive events can be a great way to connect with employees and customers and keep them motivated.

"They can select rewards in-person, in a unique setting, which not only excites them, but also gives them a feeling of exclusivity," she said.

"This shows people that they are appreciated and further drives their loyalty to your organization. Plus, people love to provide feedback. Listen to the needs and opinions of those that are engaged in the program," she said. "For ongoing programs, we ask for feedback during and after the redemption experience so that we can incorporate products from the audience's wish lists into the next event. This not only helps us to constantly keep programs fresh and effective, but it also leaves the audience feeling valued and understood."

In addition, Buer suggested getting to know them and encouraging your leaders to know their team members so they can make rewards relevant.

"It also helps to know how people prefer to be recognized. So much recognition right now is digital with online systems and while there's nothing wrong with that, delivering points for rewards in a digital system can take the meaning and personalization out of the recognition," he said.

Buer recommended looking for ways to incorporate the addition of a personal message to the digital delivery, such as a video or photo or something to make them laugh.

"Also, you can add social sharing of the reward experience so their peers and others can share in their recognition," he added. "And offering relevant choices in rewards shows them you have thought about the demographics of your team/recipients and are working to find meaningful reward experiences that matter to all of them, and not just an elite few."