Employee Recognition Travel: Not Just for Sales Staff

By SHRM Online staff May 13, 2011

Creating a nomination-based, all-employee incentive travel program could help motivate high-achieving employees who are key to the organization’s success, according to the not-for-profit Incentive Research Foundation’s (IRF) March 2011 white paper, Critical Findings for Recognition Travel Programs.

The white paper summarizes findings from an IRF case study of a company with an established recognition travel program for employees who are not salespeople responsible for meeting quotas. (Typically, recognition travel has been an incentive for sales personnel.)

“One of the most interesting discoveries was the power of the nomination process itself,” said Jeff Broudy, chairman of the IRF board of trustees. “Even though the program was designed to reward only 2 percent to 3 percent of the employees, nearly half of the potential winners indicated that they were motivated by it.”

In addition, success was tied to the degree of executive buy-in, demonstrated by management's involvement in establishing award categories, reviewing the nominations, selecting winners "and viewing the activity as more than just another HR process," Broudy explained.

"Aligning a program’s parameters to the organization’s mission and culture is as critical as making it possible for all eligible employees to participate," IRF President Melissa Van Dyke noted.

A Recognition Strategy

While acknowledging the positive aspects of using an incentive travel program to motivate non-sales employees, Broudy and Van Dyke stressed it should only be a part of an organization’s overall recognition strategy.

“Forward-thinking companies should integrate other events (primarily communications) to increase the frequency of program 'touches,' and as a way to keep the message fresh, contemporary and relevant,” according to the white paper. “One best practice involves leveraging the story behind each nomination," the report continues. "All submissions present an opportunity to develop and distribute 'updates' that recognize an individual or a team, tell their stories and socialize the admired behavior. In doing so, companies not only endorse the actions of winners, they also promote the program."

The IRF funds and promotes research to advance the science and enhance the awareness and appropriate application of motivation and incentives in business and industry globally.

Related Article:

Employee Recognition Programs Decline Slightly, SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, May 2011

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