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Get ExcitedU.S. President Barack Obama implemented change as his overall campaign theme, and it has very much become the theme of his administration. Now it seems the word change also applies to what is happening with incentive programs.

I believe strongly in the value and benefits of incentive programs; however, with the current recession, many of us have had to change the methods and modify the ways in which we implement these programs and the way such programs and rewards are perceived.

The bottom line is this: Employees and clients alike are still motivated by incentives and we should continue to embrace their value. When you reward individuals for reaching goals, this means they helped the company reach its goal. Incentives can make people appreciate and participate within the company which distributes them. I have found that employees and customers get excited about participating in incentive programs because they take great pride in being a part of the company’s success. It is the incentive program itself that drives them to help the company achieve its goals.

What one has to determine in this new economy is what is perceived as appropriate. I feel that giving options for incentives helps one determine what is appropriate. For example, I have heard many employees and customers say they consider cash to be an inappropriate incentive today. Not only does cash not give the recipients any type of “trophy” to show for their work, distributing cash in today’s world simply has the perception of being frivolous. Cash could still be an option but not the only option.

I believe in the value of giving name-brand products as incentive options. People want something they could not normally obtain or have on their own, and in many cases, a name brand provides just this. Many times, by not providing a name brand as the incentive, you will have an unsuccessful program. Thus, you do the opposite of your goal, which was to excite and entice employees and customers to do more for the company.

Incentives given in various options still provide great value as a tool within our industry. As with so many aspects of our society, we must be willing to make and adapt and modify to change in order to keep the programs a valuable part of our culture. I can’t think of any industry that has grasped and handled change more than ours, and I consider this simply one more aspect of the new meeting and event industry. One+

STEVE KEMBLE has been the magic behind countless international events for more than 20 years, from celebrating NFL players’ accomplishments to organizing parties for two presidents. Follow him at www.adoseofsass.com or on Twitter @stevekemblechat.
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