As we finally begin to emerge from quarantine and into the recovery stage of COVID-19, many leaders are re-evaluating their goals. If this includes you, have you considered making tweaks to your incentive program to support these new objectives? Your employees, sales team, and channel partners have been affected in a myriad of ways from business strategy adjustments in recent months. Now is the time to listen to their current needs to ensure your program can address and support them, allowing the core of your business to thrive. Take a look at some ways to refine your rewards for crisis recovery.

The Proof is in the Research

The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) conducted a study of 400 professionals in the Automotive/Manufacturing, Financial Services, and Technology Industries in late 2019. The results give benchmarks to use in your approach to reward programs as goals shift from a pre-pandemic perspective. It indicates that a strong recognition and reward culture fosters a higher-performing program and as a result, higher-performing business. These findings tie in well with their latest study: COVID-19 and Disruption in the Incentive Travel, Meetings, and Events Industry: Adaptation and Recovery. Per the survey, “MICE leaders told us that while survival is their main focus and concern right now, they believe there will be a tremendous opportunity for new business beginning sometime in 2021.” The study also shows that close to 20% of program owners are restructuring their programs. By refreshing your program now, you will be well prepared for the upcoming economy surge at that time.

We merged these pre-and post-COVID-19 findings to provide you with clear action items to support your success in the second half of 2020:

Five Steps to Recovery

  1. Align Program Rules to Company Goals
    • Launch a survey to gauge the understanding of new goals and adjust your rules based on the results. If the NPS (Net Promotor) score must be increased by 50%, create tiers leading up to 50%.
    • Offer multiple award structures, such as using micro-nudges for smaller actions.
    • Allow winners to be automatically selected, this is preferred over selection by committee.
    • Simplify your program rules, making it easy to see how to earn and therefore drive participation.
  2. Reward Everyone with the Right Rewards
    • Reward options should be varied and multi-tiered. Consider adjusting the value of your higher-end rewards to align with the level of effort. Do you really need to give 1 million points to the top salesperson, or can points be divvied among the top AND middle-level?
    • As travel remains restricted, especially globally, consider having an inventory of destinations available, including resort buy-outs, ground transportation (which expects a surge post-pandemic), and virtual experiences, to name a few. These locally-sourced options will offer enticing experiences that are also safer and more accessible during the pandemic recovery.
    • Build a strong reward mix with high perceived value – offering customizable rewards will allow you to spread out offerings and give people what they want and need for post-COVID recovery.
  3. Allow Key Players to Weigh In…And Connect
    • Join forces with the right departments – it will pay off over time. The more input you have, the more support you will receive. Sales incentives need buy-in from Finance, HR, and Legal to truly be effective and avoid hiccups later on.
    • Speaking of legal (we know, not the fun part), when it comes to travel, you are probably more concerned with your legal responsibility to act reasonably in ensuring the safety of your participants. We are prepared to help you thoroughly investigate risk in your targeted destinations for future travel. We will document contingency plans and share safety efforts to ensure your attendees’ expectations are met.
    • Cooperation with hotels and venues are critical to recovery – and to the opportunity to do business in the future. Creative Group maintains these relationships on your behalf.
  4. Prioritize Executive Support
    • This is a competitive advantage! A whopping 94% of executives in top-performing companies are strong supporters and view their programs as a product differentiator.
    • Show your executives why and how the program acts as a critical tool to manage performance in the company. We conduct reviews of your program(s) often to ensure the rules and structures align with the current needs of your business (ahem – see the following action item).
  5. Rethink Travel
    • Play the long game by postponing travel based on participants’ comfort level and offer solutions for alternate forms of recognition, including merchandise, gift cards, and local experiences.
    • Shift group trips to individual travel experiences – allow your winners to schedule in advance.
    • Road trips are making a comeback! Consider unique travel by offering a Porsche rental for the ultimate driving experience, or maybe an awe-inspiring scenic route on a coach or party bus.

Northstar Meetings Group summarized the recovery strategies on group travel very well. They reinforce the need to continue planning group trips (postpone if needed, or pivot to individual rewards, don’t cancel), and responding to participants’ changing needs. Most importantly, focus on elements of safety and cleanliness (we verified this through our client roundtable discussions on hotel reopening plans).

By focusing on these items, you can grow participation and meet or exceed your revised goals as a result. Utilize your program as an effective recruitment and retention tool and methodology to drive change in behavior and boost ROI as we transition into the recovery stage of the pandemic.

Ready to Adjust Your Incentives for a Post-COVID World?