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Targeting Smaller Workplace Incentives as a Strategy

In this slow recovering economy, trends in the incentive industry are leaning towards caution and scaled back rewards programs. Safety rewards, which used to garner large incentive travel programs, or other large rewards, are now are being scaled back to much smaller incentive rewards programs. According to the latest Incentive Research Foundation survey, incentive rewards program administrators' confidence levels are down to lows not seen since 2008. The survey indicated the following specifically about travel rewards programs:

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Are Year-End Rewards Coming Back?

As the economy starts to recover and 2011 comes to a close, more employers are bringing back the year-end reward. This often comes in the form of a bonus or a small gift. These types of rewards had tapered off during the recent recession, but are now coming back to the workplace. According to a new Careerbuilder.com survey, 40% more employers are planning to give bonuses this year, which is a 7% increase from 2010. What is almost more compelling is that 73% of that group is giving the same amount of year-end reward as last year, with 14% of employers giving an increased reward from 2010. This survey and similar research have proven that simple rewards are appreciated and motivating to employees. 81% of employees think that rewards are a nice thing to do for employees but should not be expected, so giving small simple rewards such as small bonuses, or a small denomination gift card, will still provide the motivation and desired outcome employers are looking for. So, as 2011 winds down, make your employees a priority in planning for 2012 and let them know how much they matter to your company.  
To learn more about the comeback of year-end rewards check out the ThomasNet News article.

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Making Rewards Work

When rewarding employees it is important to be as effective as possible. Here are some tips from the Washington Post on making rewards work for you AND your employees.
Find out what rewards are attractive to your employees- giving employees a reward they actually want and can use will be more effective than a reward that the company wants to give (tools like 
surveymonkey.com allow employees to answer anonymously)
Explain to people how rewards are determined- making the rewards process clear to employees is key in making rewards an effective tool (placing guidelines and performance structure in the employee handbook puts the criteria in writing)

Distribute rewards in a fair way- if the distribution system is not fair it can ruin the employees opinion of the rewards program, and the company (making the earning criteria for rewards clear will always make the system seem fair)

Provide rewards in a timely manner- providing rewards as quickly as possible makes employees appreciate them more, spot rewards (small, instant rewards such as a small denomination gift card) can be very effective

Use rewards to reinforce constructive behaviors- rewards should both reinforce desired behavior and motivate employees to repeat it

Consider flexibility- employee backgrounds can differ significantly, so it is important that rewards vary accordingly. Having a variety of gift card brands provides convenience for the employer and choice to the employee

Vary the awards- vary external rewards such as gifts and bonuses, with internal rewards such as autonomy and varied projects (indicating these options in the reward criteria will make employees aware of their options)

Periodically check employees’ perceptions- this ensures your rewards program remains effective (
surveymonkey.com, and other similar tools can be helpful for this as well)

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Using Holiday Employee Recognition to Motivate for the New Year

All employers use the upcoming holiday season as an opportunity to recognize their employees. Whether it is a holiday party, bonuses, or rewards such as gift cards, holidays are the time to say "thank you" to your employees.  But more and more companies are using the recovering economic climate as a tool to recognize employees and energize them for the year ahead.  Instead of just saying "thank you" retroactively employers are now using holiday recognition to renew employee commitment and drive, and catapult the momentum into the year ahead. Boosting employee morale at the end of the year is a way to boost morale and confidence in the year ahead. "If business is moderate or down, there's an attitude that develops and you are not in a good place when you look toward the next 12 months." says  Robert Preziosi, professor and chair of management at Nova Southern University. Confident employees who feel valued reduce fear and increase productivity. Does your company try to close with a boost in revenue? Do you make an effort to recognize employees to increase confidence and productivity? Let us know what your company is doing for its employees this holiday season.  
For more about holiday rewards as motivation for the new year click here.

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Imagine Getting Paid to Reward your employees

Google Wallet, the much anticipated mobile wallet system is now paying people to shop. After an initial slow adoption to the new service, and consumers still being slow to use mobile technology for financial reasons, Google Wallet is now offering shoppers $10 to use their service in select stores in 5 cities throughout the United States before the holidays.   Google employees will also travel to major metropolitan areas throughout the nation to help consumers use the new mobile application. In today's economy that could mean a lot.  For employers among us, it could mean hundreds, if not thousands of dollars saved on bonuses, or delivery of holiday gift cards. It could mean saving even more on postage, and credit card processing fees. It could mean all of your employees experiencing the ease of mobile commerce and appreciating their employer even more for delivering their holiday gift directly to their mobile phone. For consumers, it could mean one less day packing your lunch one week, or being able to grab coffee on your way to work instead of dealing with whatever caffeine is available at the office. Or for the more responsible among us it could mean ten more dollars spent on holiday gifts.
As we head into the holiday season, imagine getting paid to fight the lines at the mall, or your employer doing so.

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