#1 Set Goals & Objectives

Identify what goal/objective needs to be accomplished, for example, improved attendance, increased sales, reduced cycle times, etc. The objectives must be simple, specific, and obtainable. Begin with not more than 3 clear, briefly stated objectives and communicate them to all participants.

#2 Identify the Audience

The entire employee or consumer audience is probably not your target. Identify which individuals or teams can achieve your goals and objectives; those are your program participants.

#3 Fact-Finding & Involvement

Programs are always more effective if you can get input from representatives of the participant audience. Inviting input on the rules, rewards and other aspects of the program will increase ownership and engagement in the program. What steps will be necessary to achieve the goals? Do participants have the resources they need in order to achieve them?

#4 Program Structure & Budget

Build the foundation of the Incentive Program carefully, expanding on the methodology to be used. This is where you decide whether you’ll use an open-ended or closed-ended program design and identify your fixed and variable costs. An open-ended program is harder to budget but can be funded through incremental sales or other gains; a closed-ended program is easier to budget and may allow for larger rewards because you’ll have a set number of winners but may not be as motivating for your participant audience if the rules are not carefully structured.

#5 Select the Rewards

Employee rewards and recognition should be consistent with the brand of your company and appeal to your participant audience. Don’t make these decisions in a vacuum. The more you invite input from your audience on the types of rewards they’ll appreciate, the more effective your program will be. Of course, your reward vehicle will need to fit within the budget parameters that you’ve set.

#6 Communication & Training

Decide how you will announce and launch the program. Develop a communication strategy to keep participants updated and engaged throughout the program. Branded programs are typically more effective than generic programs. Training management in the execution of the program is critically important to the success of the program or campaign.

#7 Tracking & Administration

Decide which elements you’ll track and develop the system to track them. Administration may account for approximately 20% of the program budget. The right program dashboard or other technology can help to reduce the time spent on administration.

#8 Fulfillment

The more immediate, the better. Technological advances allow participants to redeem rewards online and, in some cases, the rewards may be digital. It’s also important that the reward and fulfillment experience is consistent with your company’s brand attributes. 

#9 Evaluate & Measure

Did the Incentive Program achieve its objectives? Were the participants motivated to change their behavior? What outside factors contributed to the success (or not) of the program? Every element that you measure can inform your next program parameters to ensure greater success in the future.

#10 Celebrate Success

Communicate the employee rewards and results of the recognition program with your audience. Share how the program impacted company performance and celebrate both individual and team achievements. Support from top management is critical, so make sure company leaders are involved in presentations. If you have remote workers, consider web events or other ways in which to involve all participants in the celebration.

Courtesy of Incentive Marketing Association

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