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Engagement Industry Briefs

Lax Measurement

A spot subscriber survey among ESM readers reveals that while just over half employ Social Media as part of their engagement arsenal and two-thirds use some kind of Recognition Program, only 32% have Assessment Surveys in place to measure the effectiveness of their various strategies. Just over half (53.8%) say they offer Incentive Programs, roughly split between Merchandise (37%), Travel Awards (34%) and Gift Certificates (38%).

Smart Incentive Travel

“Motivational programs that fail are often the victim of poor program design in areas like rule structure, award selection, promotion and measurement,” notes Jane Schuldt, President of the Site International Foundation, which recently released a study, Incentive Travel: The Smart Business Proposition, as part of its Incentives Move Business series. The paper focuses on how well-designed incentive travel and motivational events can help companies achieve corporate business objectives and provide a measurable return on investment. “Understanding the objectives of a program, how they align with overall compensation and recognition, and defining what motivates participants are keys to a program’s success,” notes Schuldt.

EEA Membership

Based on the growing number of executives with “engagement” in their title and on the support of numerous visionary firms and organizations that have helped nurture the Enterprise Engagement Alliance, Managing Director Bruce Bolger has announced that the organization will move beyond sponsorships as its sole source of funding and institute a membership model encompassing all of the corporate practitioners, engagement solution providers, academics, students and young professionals focused on this new area of business. The benefits of membership are, chiefly, to promote learning, obtain certification and access a network of help and support with implementation of engagement solutions – either as professionals in corporations, government or not-for-profit organizations, or as companies or consultants who provide engagement services – and, in a larger sense, to help promote the growth of a field in whose involvement members stand to gain personally and professionally. More at

Culture Wars

Kim Heyer, Marketing Manager at BlessingWhite, writes on the firm’s website that perks are important for recruiting the brightest talent, but they may actually keep the wrong (aka disengaged) employees in the organization as well. “This got me thinking,” she says, “about the difference between a ‘Perks Culture’ and a ‘Purposeful Culture.’ A purposeful culture centers on a compelling mission and core values, with shared accountability for maintaining the culture and delivering results. A purposeful culture, when combined with a killer business strategy, drives an organization’s performance and can tie directly to positive bottom-line results. A free lunch does not make a culture. My point is a culture based on perks can be dangerous! Without a clear purpose, an organization is at risk of sitting on its successes and drifting over time into a state of low performance. Alternatively, in the absence of a purpose, an organization can become solely focused on driving results, leading to burnout and employee churn.”


I am a salesman. I don’t sell minivans in a car dealership or bound from office to office pressing cholesterol drugs on physicians. But leave aside sleep, exercise, and hygiene, and it turns out that I spend a significant portion of my days trying to coax others to part with resources. Sure, sometimes I’m trying to tempt people to purchase books I’ve written. But most of what I do doesn’t directly make a cash register ring.

In one recent two-week period, I worked to convince a magazine editor to abandon a silly story idea, a prospective business partner to join forces, an organization where I volunteer to shift strategies, even an airline gate agent to switch me from a window seat to an aisle. Indeed, the vast majority of time I’m seeking resources other than money. Can I get strangers to read an article, an old friend to help me solve a problem, or my nine-year-old son to take a shower after baseball practice?

You’re probably not much different. Dig beneath the sprouts of your own calendar entries and examine their roots, and I suspect you’ll discover something similar. Some of you, no doubt, are selling in the literal sense – convincing existing customers and fresh prospects to buy casualty insurance or consulting services or homemade pies at a farmers’ market. But all of you are likely spending more time than you realize selling in a broader sense; pitching colleagues, persuading funders, cajoling kids.

Like it or not, we’re all in sales now.

IRF Invitational

The Incentive Research Foundation announced that its 21st annual Incentive Invitational will be held May 28-June 1, 2014 at Secrets Puerto Los Cabos Golf & Spa Resort in San Jose del Cabo. The Incentive Invitational is the IRF’s most important annual fundraising activity for research surrounding motivation and incentives. This year’s Education Day, dubbed Innovating Incentives: Cutting-Edge Technology and Bold Ideas, will feature a number of fast-paced, engaging and interactive sessions with speakers ranging from top academics to key consultants. These sessions will also offer attendees a first look at three new IRF studies.

Categorize Rewards

A recent study by Professor Scott S. Wiltermuth at USC’s Marshall School of Business has revealed an important strategy for increasing performance. Wiltermuth says that offering rewards in defined categories – even when they’re largely meaningless – can heighten motivation. Even if the rewards are similar – and the categories arbitrary – the very act of segmenting rewards motivates people to perform better and longer, even on menial tasks. Wiltermuth’s study, I’ll Have One of Each: How Separating Rewards into (Meaningless) Categories Increases Motivation, co-authored with Francesca Gino, Associate Professor of business administration at Harvard University, was recently published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Through the study, Wiltermuth and Gino found that individuals were more motivated by obtaining one reward from one category and an additional reward from a separate category than by choosing two rewards from a pool that included all items from either reward category. As a result, they worked longer when potential rewards for work were separated into categories regardless of the prize value. Categorizing rewards had positive effects on motivation by increasing the degree to which participants felt they would “miss out” if they did not obtain the second reward.

Engagement University

On the heels of its highly successful 2013 event in New Orleans, the Enterprise Engagement Alliance has announced the launch of Engagement University, the first formal curriculum and certification program on Engagement throughout the organization. It will be held in conjunction with the 2014 Rewards & Recognition Expo and Engagement Pavilion, April 6-8, 2014 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, TN. Led by a faculty of corporate practitioners, solution providers, research experts and professors, the program brings to life a formal Enterprise Engagement curriculum and certification program. For details, go to

Engaged Millennials

Aon Hewitt has released its annual list of Best Employers in Canada, revealing that Millennials – the generation entering the workplace after 2000, who have often been characterized as self-interested, difficult employees – are becoming more engaged the longer they’re in the workforce. The survey measures how well organizations perform in six key areas: Leadership Excellence, Manager Effectiveness, Enabling Productivity (how well organizations equip employees to do their jobs), Growth & Development, Valuing & Appreciating Employees and Overall Employee Experience. This year, average employee engagement was 78% at Best Employers, roughly on par with last year’s 79%. The average for other participants was 58%. The study also suggests that the long-held assumption that part-time Millennials are less engaged than their full-time counterparts is simply not true.

Culture Wars Part 2

The American Management Association posted an article by Marie Peeler of Peeler Associates noting that “organizational culture permeates everything that a team does, but nowhere does it enable or inhibit progress more than around the strategy table. Organizational culture determines who will speak up and who will remain silent, whether all facts will be brought to the table, and whether the team engages in dialogue or advocacy. Organizational culture can make sure that certain taboo topics never see the light of day until they potentially sabotage the plan. She then outlines a number of ways that leaders can help ensure an organizational culture that is ultimately conducive to strong and meaningful strategic planning.”

Industry Insider

Dittman Incentive Marketing has won MarCom Awards’ 2013 Platinum Award for the mobile event app it developed for Vantiv Inc., a leading integrated provider of payment processing strategies and advanced technology solutions for businesses and financial institutions. MarCom Awards, based in Dallas, TX, is administered and judged by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals, an international organization consisting of several thousand creative professionals committed to recognizing marketing and communications excellence. For the 2013 awards, more than 6,500 entries were submitted from throughout the United States, Canada and several other countries. Vantiv used the mobile event app for its 2013 Partnership Forum held in Boston, an annual event that brings together the company's top partners and customers with Vantiv’s senior management for three days of networking, education and presentations. More than 75% of the attendees downloaded the app before and during the meeting. For more information, go to …. Loyalty management firm Aimia, Inc. recently announced that it purchased Smart Button, an innovative loyalty technology provider for national retailers and other organizations. The purchase is part of Aimia’s global growth strategy, strengthening its presence in the high potential U.S. retail loyalty market. While complementing Aimia’s existing products and services, the acquisition of Smart Button will increase the breadth and depth of Aimia’s loyalty product and client portfolio. Smart Button offers clients a turnkey, feature rich, loyalty solution that enables them to build relationships with their customers that are easy to integrate into a company’s systems and can be managed by a company’s own internal marketing team. The acquisition further advances Aimia’s position as a leading loyalty management company for business-to-business brands. For more information, go to …. Maritz Motivation Solutions has announced the launch of the Maritz Reward Studio, a new division specializing in providing global reward solutions that are grounded in the latest human behavior research. “As companies seek to do more with less, outsourcing reward fulfillment allows many organizations to focus on their core strengths or invest in new areas of their businesses while offering a world-class global reward solution to their clients or people,” says Glenn Darlington, Senior VP and General Manager of Maritz Reward Studio. The Maritz Reward Studio team helps create meaningful reward experiences that drive results for clients and reflect well on their brand. It builds upon Maritz Motivation Solutions’ science-based approach to emotionally connecting with people to maximize their reward experience. For more information on The Maritz Reward Studio, visit …. National Gift Card Corp. (NGC) has named Lizz Wheeler Vice President of Business Development at the incentive and loyalty rewards provider. In her new role, she will manage the company’s inside sales team, oversee sales growth within NGC’s existing client base and increase development of new markets and customers. Wheeler joined National Gift Card in 2007, and also served as the company’s Director of Marketing. More info at

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