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goog anal

It’s hard (impossible?) to argue that Google has done most things right.  Don’t you wish you were among the first few hundred employees they had in the beginning years and had the stock options they received?  We don’t know the stats, but you’ve got to figure that the Silicon Valley has produced more millionaires per square mile than anywhere in the universe, well maybe with the exception of Wall Street, but isn’t that about the same thing?

The fundamental obsession that made Google successful and keeps them successful is analyzing data. They use it for every decision they make.  It even has a big function in the HR department called People Analytics.  Recently they used the analytics within HR to makes its incentives and recognition programs more meaningful.  Unlike many companies that plan employee recognition programs, Google shuns benchmarking and best practices and prefers to do their own data gathering and analytics instead.  In addition they examine external research to assure they are on solid footing and make sure they don’t duplicate work that has already been done.

According to Kathryn Dekas, people analytics manager at Google…

 “Focusing on the users is a big tenet for Google.  Within HR are users are our Googlers and we want to provide them with the most unique experience.” 

The new system that they created to recognize and reward employees was done in house and has been, or will shortly be rolled out to all employees.  Interesting to note that that this system was done in house and was not typical points based delivery system.  This allowed them to control the award delivery and give their people what they wanted, based of course on the analytics!

We would encourage any company thinking of implementing or redesigning their employee award efforts to mine some of their own data, and not just purchase some off the shelf points based system that may or may not provide the type of motivation that your people really want.



The machinations of how the incentive industry has been hiding the price of awards in points based systems is made somewhat transparent by reviewing this article from Fox Business online.  While the article is specifically about the value of points in a Bank of America’s World Point program when redeemed for gift cards, this information can be used as the basis to determine value of points in any type of points based incentive or employee recognition system.

For years the incentive industry did a magnificent job of hiding the value of an award in these points systems.  By adjusting the cost of the point from the supplier incentive company to the corporation implementing the incentive program, you could easily hide the “price” of the award.  In past years it was not uncommon for incentive companies to change the cost of these points simply to camouflage the value.  We’ve seen them range from 1 cent to ½ cent to 1/32 cent to a dollar and every number in between.  Then all the incentive company had to do was provide “excellent service” to deliver these awards and everyone was seemingly happy.

But then gift cards arrived on the scene!  And oh how the incentive industry fought their introduction, knowing that it would be transparent what a $50 gift card should be worth in points.  By simply dividing the value of the card by the number of points needed to redeem for it, the cost or value of the point was apparent.   If you had merchandise included as an offering in a program the same calculation holds true.  It was then that folks started to see that the TV that looked so good in the incentive catalog had a point cost of twice or more what you could purchase the same TV for at Best Buy.

It is no wonder that the growth of gift cards in the incentive industry has been exponential since inception.  Today they represent by some research over 90% of all incentive expenditures.  And, when gift cards are available as an option along with merchandise in an incentive or loyalty program, the redemption of the points for gift cards vs the merchandise can easily exceed 95%.

During that time the AwardofChoice card has had significant growth as well.   It is the only gift card system that offers a $ for $ value, no fees, no markups, no hidden costs.  If you had a $50 AwardofChoice card in your loyalty program and the cost of the point was the traditional $0.005 ea. you would only need 5000 points to get an AwardofChoice card.  It is without a doubt the best value in the incentive and employee recognition industry today.



Are all incentive programs successful? No! In fact there are some studies that show that as many as 66% don’t produce results or in fact have negative results.  Why?

An incentive program is not a panacea for all employee performance issues.  It is not a substitute for all the right things you know to change employee behavior.  It is not a substitute for poor leadership or unfair compensation.  But when used in the right context, it will definitely highlight all the other programs that you implement and can motivate your employees to improve performance.

Like the proverbial story of making the horse drink at the trough, you can avail your employees of all the programs necessary to make them successful, but with some of them you will not be able to make them “drink.”

An incentive program is nothing more than a tool to motivate your employees to want to take that first sip.  Once they do, the vast majority will want to continue the experience for the simple reason that there is something in it for them.

Incentive program can fail for a variety of reasons.  Following are some of the more typical things that will negatively affect them:  Read the rest of this entry »



For a client to know what kind of system is best suited to their needs, they must spend some time prior to investigating potential suppliers, and attempt to understand the fundamental types of systems that exist, and some of the basic features.  Web-based incentive and reward systems range from simple online “redemption engines” used mainly to showcase and distribute awards to winning participants, to complete turnkey enterprise solutions that will manage workplace performance throughout the organization.  At first glance, and depending on the proficiency of the salesperson you’re asking, most systems will appear very similar.  But looks in this arena are very deceiving.  While similarities exist between all systems, there can also be vast differences.  Choosing which one is best suited to your needs will depend on several factors.  In the beginning of your search, ask yourself these questions about the system you think you need.  The answers to these alone could immediately eliminate several potential suppliers:

Read the rest of this entry »



Today it seems that it’s almost de rigueur for us “experienced” incentive sales types to say to a client that we are completely “Award Neutral” when it comes to recommending the right award solution for their incentive program.  But what does that really mean?  And are we being totally honest with the client?  

In the “old days” 

Back in the early 1970’s I was pounding the pavement of the San Francisco bay area looking for unsuspecting prospects to listen to my well rehearsed presentation on the merits of sales incentives.  When the motto of the company back then was “Motivating Men to Sell Your Product,” do you think it was a different time?  How do you think that motto would fit into our world today?? 

At that early time in my career, I was taught never to approach a client initially about awards.  It was drilled into me never to take our beautiful hard bound deluxe book of merchandise awards to the first meeting, and often not the second or even the third.  My job was to learn as much about the client as I could.  The theory was that if I learned about their company, organization, products, distribution, pricing etc. I would be in the best position to recommend a program that would produce results.  And, my teachers were right.  Approaching the business from this perspective allowed me to concentrate our resources on building the best solution for the client before we discussed what they should use to award the participants for results.  We didn’t have to worry about being “award neutral” because in fact we were.  Of course it helped that at that time all the industry had to sell were two rewards, merchandise, and group travel.  Read the rest of this entry »