It’s that time again! Springtime? Well, yes, but what we geek out about here at One10 is the annual Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) Trends Report. And we’re not just saying that because we’re a research advocacy partner.
So, open those windows, grab some snackage and your favorite beverage, and let’s dive in.
IRF Trend: Expanding reach and building company culture
This trend focuses on how incentive programs can (and need to) expand their reach to motivate as many employees and partners as possible. Given “The Great Resignation,” hybrid work models, and the need to engage employees at all levels (not just ‘top performers’), IRF sees the trend in incentives becoming more varied and inclusive.
Our Xpert take on trend: At One10, we agree that company culture is key. And yes, it’s harder in our current world where working together doesn’t always create that feeling of connection that can come from even casual hallway conversations. We outlined three actions leaders can take to keep employees connected in the remote/hybrid workplace, both to each other and to the organization, including frequent rewards. How do rewards help? Because it’s tough to feel part of something when you don’t feel seen. Rewards = “you see me!”
One10 conducted a study of 3,000 working adults in the U.S. that emphasized, yes, recognition is important. When an employee feels like they are being properly recognized by their company, they are 74% more likely to remain an employee. It also found peer recognition makes a difference. That can be as simple as sharing why an employee is being recognized so others can join in the congratulations, as well as creating programs that allow peers to designate perks, too, not just the boss.
And speaking of perks, both IRF and One10 continue to find that points are an important part of the rewards mix. From reach (points can work anywhere, in any time zone!) to personalization (employees use points for what they really want or need), to aligning with your brand through the offerings in the catalog, points have a wealth of benefits.
IRF Trend: Incentive travel remains a priority
As the report puts it, “participants are willing to navigate uncertainty, travel restrictions, testing, and shifting protocols for an incentive trip.” Granted, travel looks different right now, with participants preferring remote locations and companies needing to “pivot” (favorite buzz word of 2021?!) in case safety protocols shift. Despite that, this perk is still a primary motivator and engager.
Our Xpert take on trend: Yes! While travel incentives have been around for decades, their allure isn’t fading. We’re seeing this trend in action: we’ve already organized successful group incentive trips for clients in 2022. Why? Experiences create memories, while cash sometimes just pays the bills. Plus, incentive travel takes your employees to places they probably wouldn’t normally fit into their budgets, and gives them a level of luxury that really makes them feel appreciated.
IRF Trend: Motivating a remote workforce
No surprise here. Many employees will choose to stay remote, and in fact, may change employers if they can’t. Incentive programs are one tool in the proverbial toolkit for employers to encourage desired behaviors, and like other tools, they need to be reviewed routinely to see if they’re keeping pace with employees’ needs.
Our Xpert take on trend: We agree that company culture is key, and it’s even harder in our current workforce. But – many types of employees and in fact entire organizations are used to being remote. Think of a deployed sales team, or a global consulting firm. Somehow, they create culture that connects, despite rarely seeing each other in person. As we all navigate this “new normal” (another buzz word!), we can learn some valuable lessons from workplaces that are, well, plural, just like we are now. Whether it’s a mobile-first incentive program or above-and-beyond email and video chat communications, we can look at what’s working in other organizations and apply it to the more traditional “so nice to run into you in the elevator this morning” workplaces. (Pro tip: Has your organization created informal chat spaces that don’t involve texts or DMs, or are your team’s cat photos mixed into your work channels?).
IRF Trend: New Dimensions of Personalization
As the report points out, the trend toward personalization isn’t new, but it’s becoming even more specific. From more options on travel incentives (not just where, but how each person’s experience at the location is different) to curated rewards, the trend is toward tailored. And after all, personalization is what most employees experience in their personal life from the brands all around them, so they expect it at work, too.
Our Xpert take on trend: Three cheers! We absolutely agree, rewards should never be a one-size-fits-all approach. Just as we all have different motivations; we all need different rewards. While we all understand that — how many times have we seen the smiles and heard the groans when everyone gets the same branded company gift?! — it can be hard to know how to truly create customization with a large workforce.
At One10 we find our clients always benefit from implementing a points program. Like we’ve said before, and we’ll keep saying, points are the ultimate in adaptability. Another plus: they take the guesswork away from the leadership or HR team and put decision-making squarely into the hands of the person you want to reward. Who better to know what will surprise and delight than the recipient themselves?
Does that mean you should only offer points? No, a variety of options is always a good idea. If there’s a trend that isn’t going away, it’s prioritizing the personal options over the ‘one-size-fits-all.’ After all, if it were that easy, there wouldn’t be an industry to study.
Thanks to IRF for this amazing research. We love seeing how our client experience and learnings ladder up to the bigger picture.