So far in the stages of incentive programs series we have planned, budgeted, implemented and kicked off an incentive program. The ramp up period of an incentive program’s life cycle is the most crucial stage and careful attention should be paid to getting administrators on board with the program and users familiar with it too. This week, I would like to cover tips to shorten the ramp up period of your incentive program to get it off and running.
It is important to note that the ramp up time for your particular incentive program is dependent on what kind of incentive program you are implementing, the number of participants and the structure of your company. Contests tend to have ramp-up times of as little as a week, while on the other end of the spectrum, safety or behavioral-based incentive programs can take as long as a couple years. The fewer the number of participants, the less time it should take to ramp up a reward program. The more locations you have for your company and thicker its hierarchy is, the longer the ramp up time will take to get your program running. From my experience, I have put clues below for you to consider whether your incentive program is ramping up as expected or not progressing.
Signs your program is ramping up:
- Managers are awarding points
- Points are regularly being added online
- Users are earning points for a variety of reasons (if applicable)
- Spot checks show majority of people have logged into their accounts
- Consistent communication has been incorporated into the program
- Users have started to spend points on items
Signs your program is not progressing:
- Points are not being added consistently or at all
- Users are only earning points for company-wide achievements but not any individual ones (if applicable)
- Spot checks show majority of people have not logged into their accounts
- Communication about the program is sporadic or nonexistent
- Users have enough points to order but are not spending points
If you find that your incentive program is not progressing, there is no need to despair. I have a few methods that will assist you in getting through the ramp up period and not stuck in a rut. First of all, you need to focus on getting points reported and posted on a consistent basis. If only a couple of managers or locations are doing this, nurture their involvement by ensuring participants receive regular updates about their accounts and informed on the points being earned. All you need is to have a few early adopters to get an incentive program off and running throughout the company.
My second tip is to promote the popular items that are being ordered or the number of points that participants have earned and/or spent. Special catalogs and flyers can be created to promote the popularity of the incentive program and get everyone on the bandwagon. As people order items, they are more likely to start discussing their orders and experience with the program with co-workers. This is a tried and true advertising style that can be applied to any reward program.
Third, if you can automate regular points so that managers only have to send over a list of who should not earn the monthly or quarterly points, do so. This allows managers to spend more time on spreading the word of the program and helping to get users familiar with it. If points are added regularly or automatically, participants will be able to anticipate when to check their accounts and possibly start spending points.
If you see a lot of points being awarded, people logging in consistently but no one really spending points, my fourth tip is to try expiring points. Announce the point expiration at least thirty days in advance. Send out email notifications, account statements/order forms and post flyers to communicate that if points earned over the first collection of awards are not spent by a certain date, they will be expired. Track point and login activity during this period and use this information to analyze the incentive program’s progress after the points are expired.
Lastly, if you are at a loss for what could be holding up your reward program, the ramp up phase is the perfect time to implement a feedback form on the incentive program website and/or in the office. If the feedback can be submitted anonymously, then you are more likely to get the candid answers you need to remove any roadblocks to your incentive program’s success.
Please do not give up hope when it comes to an incentive program that you have carefully planned, budgeted, implemented and kicked off. If your first methods of encouraging participation fail, then try another plan of attack. When you partner with an incentive program provider, their experience and knowledge should give you an idea of just how long it should take for your program to go from kick off to running. Also, an experienced provider should be able to assist you should your program not progress as expected. Check back on February 28th for the next blog in the stages of incentive programs series.