Reward Cards. Best Practices.

An Effective Rewards Program for Employees Can Enhance Employee Performance and Increase Motivation.

The value of an organization is measured by the accomplishments of its employees. Work environments that encourage employee engagement and foster superior performance pave the way to greater success.

According to Dr. Bob Nelson¹, best-selling author and a leading authority on employee recognition, “Organizations that have a ‘culture of recognition’ have employees who report they are 5x more likely to feel valued, 7x more likely to stay with the company, 6x more likely to invest in the company, and 11x more likely to feel completely committed in their jobs, which has been shown to account for 57 percent greater effort on the part of employees.” One way to promote a culture of recognition is to establish a rewards program for employees.

A rewards program for employees can inspire employee performance and sustain employee motivation. Rewards and incentive programs can boost employee performance by up to 44%². With positive results such as these, a MasterCard® Reward Program is a simple tool for addressing your company’s incentive and reward needs.

With a MasterCard® Reward Program, you can create unique and superior platforms that are structured to address your individual business goals or specific challenges to inspire better employee performance. An effective rewards program for employees will evaluate your organization’s goals, demographics, preferences and past performances for better understanding and ignite individuals to strive for greater success.

A rewards program for employees that features a MasterCard® Reward Card as an award vehicle is dynamic, cost-effective and simple to administer. Recipients have the benefit of selecting their favorite rewards from more than 32 million merchant locations worldwide, wherever Debit MasterCard® is accepted.

Simple recognition for outstanding efforts can go a long way. To encourage employees to go the extra mile and aspire to higher achievement, MasterCard® Reward Programs should be crafted to recognize achievements in specific areas, such as in sales performance, customer service, longevity, or safety promotions.

¹ Bob Nelson, best-selling author of 1001 Rewards and Recognition Handbook.
² Study conducted by the Society for Incentive and Travel Executives (Site).

Are Companies Squeezing Dry Lemons?

As a result of the worst financial recession in history, companies have spent the last couple of years downsizing and reducing spend in every way imaginable as a means to sustain liquidity, cash flow, profitability and for some mere existence. This was the dictated course of action for survival. And frankly, this worked for many. Revenues for S&P 500 companies declined 10% year-over-year while profits increased 6% and liquidity on the sidelines is now at an all time high.

But opportunities to sustain shareholder value by downsizing and making expense reductions have been all but exhausted. Those lemons, as we like to say, are dry with no more juice left to squeeze out. Achieving shareholder value in the future will largely be determined by how well companies are able to win the hearts and minds of their people and leverage their intellectual capital specific to driving their key financial strategies. The big winners will be those leaders who finally recognize that it is all about their people being ready, willing and able to execute.

The ultimate objective for any business is to get its leaders and employees to truly take ownership and to be accountable for the financial success of the organization. That said, we don’t just want passive ownership & accountability; we want engaged and energized ownership and accountability. We want players at all talent levels to be able to elevate their game. So what will it take to enable greatest contribution at all levels of the organization? It is really quite simple. It will require us to finally show our employees the “why?” behind our business.

History continues to show us that companies will: 1) go to great lengths to define their strategies; 2) invest lots of dollars in communicating what the strategies are to their employees; and 3) institute lots of measurements to manage the execution of the strategies. So what is missing? How about the “why?” in all of these components? Why do we believe that people don’t want to or need to understand the “why?” behind what they are being requested to do? As leaders, do we really believe that people will give their absolute best possible effort because “it’s their job”? Any of us who have teenage kids know that the simple answer is no, they won’t. Yes, they may do what is demanded or requested to avoid consequences, but the odds that they will deliver the best effort is low at best. This holds true for employees, too.

It is amazing to think that this one, three-letter-word could be so critical to our success. In fact, this simple word is the greatest single opportunity we have to exploit as leaders, since it is the only way we will optimize the execution of our beloved strategies through our employees. To achieve this, we need to help our employees see the “why?” so they can understand, align, internalize and personally own the business outcomes.

To optimize individual and functional contributions, we need to shift how we think about our employees. We need to move to a management model that continues to communicate what the strategies are and how they will be measured, but also begins to include “why?” these are our strategies. This is the only way we can shift the culture and mindset to an ownership mentality, which is what will create the greatest groundswell of success.

Here is what we know: Humans want to contribute. Humans want to be valuable and relevant. Humans want to be a part of something successful. These are all basic human drivers. To further illustrate this, we will share the insightful words of one of our senior clients. He said, “As leaders, we must keep in mind that no one shows up to work everyday looking to suck at it. They all want to perform.”

Knowing that people genuinely want to–and need to–contribute, it is our job as leaders to start subtly shifting their awareness and capabilities. We need our people to Think, Speak and Act like owners in a multi-dimensional fashion. This means thinking multi-functionally, which leads to better collaboration and the elimination of functional silos. And, they must think financially. Connecting cross-functional thinking with financial implications is the essence of truly Thinking, Speaking and Acting like owners of the business:

  • Understanding our financial ecosystem
  • Understanding our investment decision/resource allocation decisions
  • Articulating our ideas using the language of finance
  • Creating the right infrastructure within the organization to drive adoption of this ownership culture

It’s time to align, enable and motivate people in a new way that will lead companies to the fruitful results they are seeking.

Ed Winkelmann,
Sales, Marketing and Management
consultant at JNR Incorporated.

A Return on Experience?

I’ve been reading a lot of great information about ROI and ROE in the incentive and meeting publications. Obviously, these are two very real and very important measuring criteria for making informed business decisions. In the simplest terms, Return on Investment refers to how well your investment of resources–such as money, time, personnel–performed against your desired results. To measure ROI, you might ask yourself, “What did this incentive competition/meeting/special event make people do?” Return on Experience strives to measure more intangible results, such as increasing loyalty, likelihood for improved performance in the future, capturing mind share, and creating enduring memories that sustain, solidify and build relationships. To evaluate ROE, you might ask yourself, “How did this event/meeting/special offering make people feel and how will that impact future business success?”

Personally, I like to employ one additional gauge of success when it comes to establishing working relationships, selecting supplier support, and building strategic partnerships. I call it “ROA”– Return on Anxiety. I believe it to be an essential measurement tool when deciding who to work with… and who to avoid. When choosing suppliers, I need to know that I am working with competent, creative experts who are passionate about what they do—people who share my high standards and can meet my high expectations. Accuracy, time lines, budgets and details matter to me as a Marketing executive, so I expect these to matter to my vendor partners as well. If I find myself having to worry that my supplier partner is not attending to these “big four” essentials, my stress level begins to rise and my ROA meter starts to radiate heat. If I have a suddenly sinking feeling, or a lack of confidence in my supplier partner is sneaking up on me, or if I’m taking heat from higher ups for the underperformance of my support team, then the ratio of anxiety to success is out of balance. What’s more, ROA has a trickle-down effect: When ROA is good, it can invigorate a working team; when it’s bad, it can be demotivating. My ROA results from each completed project will definitely impact whether or not I choose to work with that organization, agency, company or individual again.

You probably have an ROA expectation without even knowing it. ROA may be invisible, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. ROA is relatively easy to measure. A good ROA yields gifts of additional time in a day, peace-of-mind, less frustration, improved health, more smiles, better sleep at night, and a glorious sense of achievement. If you’re finding that your Return on Anxiety ratio is out of balance—that you have greater stress and less results—it’s likely that you have not found the right supplier partner to share your vision. Maybe it’s time for a change.

A 14-year veteran of JNR Incorporated, Maria Dales is
Vice President of Corporate Communications.