Author: Mike Sullivan

Mike has more than 15 years of experience designing and implementing incentive and recognition programs. He specializes in employee recognition and multi-step channel sales incentive programs. When not tending to his clients’ needs, Mike can be found wetting a line on a local waterway or traversing a hiking trail with his wife Michelle.

Employee Recognition Engagement and the Endowed Progress Effect

One key factor in achieving early engagement in an employee recognition or sales incentive program is often overlooked – dedicating a small portion of your budget for enrollment or activation in the program.  This does not have to be a substantial monetary investment, but simply a little something to get the participant started while reinforcing to them that you recognize their time is valuable and you are willing to compensate them for it.  This should not be treated as a meaningless add-on either, because participants who start with a little currency are 15% more likely to participate in the program moving forward, which means they are engaging in the behavior that you would like them to focus on.

This phenomenon – known as the Endowed Progress Effect – is detailed by Joseph C. Nunes and Xavier Dreze via their research document entitled “The Endowed Progress Effect: How Artificial Advancement Increases Effort,” from the Journal of Consumer Research, Inc., Volume 32, March 2006.  From the study:

“…people provided with artificial advancement toward a goal exhibit greater persistence toward reaching the goal. By converting a task requiring eight steps into a task requiring 10 steps but with two steps already complete, the task is reframed as one that has been undertaken and incomplete rather than not yet begun. This increases the likelihood of task completion and decreases completion time. The effect appears to depend on perceptions of task completion rather than a desire to avoid wasting the endowed progress.”

Secondarily, you are training the participant to “expect” something in exchange for them doing something moving forward.  It is also important to understand that this reinforcement should not be limited to the initial enrollment or activation in the program.  Additional tools such as online quizzes and surveys as well as “on the spot” awards can also be utilized to reenergize a stale participant base.

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Building True Loyalty: Closing the Expectations Gap

An article by Jim Tierney about a Colloquy study entitled “Global Strategy, Local Tactics” is very enlightening.  The study looks at loyalty programs in five different global regions and as Jim points out, exposes an expectations gap that leaves a large part of the market disengaged.  As a result, the majority of programs are not building… Read more »

Measuring Success: Sales Incentive Programs and ROI

Sales incentive programs can be an effective way of generating revenue when implemented correctly.  This can be done for channel sales incentive programs as well as direct sales.  However, it is important to have measurable goals in place prior to the program being launched in order to measure and adjust the program if necessary. This… Read more »

Surveys – Important Tool in your Employee Recognition Toolbox

While all employees have opinions and ideas it is often difficult to gain feedback from them about such topics as new product introductions, employee satisfaction, general company policies and procedures, and more.  Employee surveys can be a valuable tool, but as Reuven Gorsht points out in this recent Forbes post, the average employee survey response… Read more »

Using Employee Recognition Programs to Drive Business Results

In this recent WorldatWork Post, Rose Stanley discusses an increase in the number of employee recognition programs that include specific business results objectives – in addition to the more traditional years of service, above and beyond and peer to peer, etc.  One additional reason for including business results in your employee recognition program is that… Read more »

Embedding Core Values is Foundational to Employee Recognition

When constructing the correct employee recognition program it is critical to strike a proper balance between the “what” and the “why.”  Properly designed and executed, employee recognition should also address how employees are recognized and rewarded … and it is critical. Check out Derek Irvine’s post which discusses how important it is to embed corporate… Read more »