5 program design dragons that must be slayedWatching the 2002 movie Reign of Fire (Matthew McConaughey, Christian Bale) left me with one overwhelming and undeniable truth: the free reign of undomesticated, large, fire-breathing dragons is not conducive to a life of peace and prosperity.  As long as those dragons are around all activities are focused on avoidance, survival and a meager existence (if you haven’t seen Reign of Fire, view the trailer here).

And so it is with incentive program design.  Program design dragons will drastically impede (and can even prevent) implementation and successful execution – and can shorten the life of your incentive or recognition program.  Of the ones we encounter regularly, here are a few of the most common:

  1. We don’t need to reward participants for doing the job they are paid to do.  While this, on the surface, may seem a fair statement – incentive and recognition initiatives augment the overall cultural aspects of the organization.  They go far beyond strict compensation and should reflect and reinforce corporate vision, value and culture.
  2. Focusing exclusively on results while disregarding behavior.  The result may not only be counterproductive – it can also be disastrous, as this example from a bank in the UK shows.  Pressing for short-term financial results while enacting mandatory punitive actions resulted in unlawful activity.
  3. Participant reward budgets aren’t that important – it’s enough that we have a program for our employees.  The largest portion of program budget is allocated for participant rewards, and must be considered in conjunction with required behaviors and results.  Again, from this post entitled Incentive Program Design – Avoiding a Culture of Chaos – program administrators vastly underestimated the importance of meaningful recognition and rewards.
  4. All or nothing award rules will provide more permanent results.  Whether safety programs (one incident prevents inclusion) or sales incentives (the bar is set too high and no award is given until it is reached) this dragon is especially dangerous to morale and organizational health.  The all or nothing dragon should be slayed on sight.
  5. Exclusionary implementation won’t be perceived as a negative.  A comprehensive program is the best way to reinforce value, vision and culture while motivating and engaging employees.  Design a comprehensive program with distinct KPIs for each of your employee segments or job types.  With the right platform you can maximize program effectiveness while monitoring overall success.

The slaying of dragons is imperative to our survival, but the first order of business is to acknowledge their existence and learn to identify them.  Need help identifying and eradicating dragons from your program design?  Contact us here or give us a call at 800.621.9745.

As Vice President of QIC, Jeff oversees daily operations as well as the company’s strategic marketing initiatives. He has 20+ years in the incentive and recognition industry with prior lengthy experience in retail marketing/advertising and consumer loyalty.

Leave a Reply