How to optimize your employee incentive program by understanding generational differences

October 14, 2015 Amanda Johnson

generational-differences-business-optimize-employee-incentive-programThe Internet is full of clickbait articles about generational differences, especially those “Millennials.” And apparently, when it comes to employee incentive programs, those articles aren’t without merit. A recent study by the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) showed that understanding broad generational differences could make a significant difference in how businesses keep existing talent and attract competitive hires.

Not surprisingly, the IRF study, “Generations in the Workforce & Marketplace: Preferences in Rewards, Recognition & Incentives,” found some conflicting arguments about what motivates three major generations: the Baby Boomers, Generation X and the Millennials. Most studies seemed in agreement that Baby Boomers prefer more ceremony to their workplace recognition; Generation X want quiet praise and rewards; and Millennials would like frequent and communal recognition celebrations.

How might your business rewards program adapt to address these differences? Many businesses working with Travel and Transport’s loyalty division offer gift cards to their employees, allowing the employee to choose the rewards that appeal to them. “We always suggest incorporating a variety of awards in a program like that to appeal to different generations and what they might be thinking or feeling,” says Travel and Transport Account Manager, Cyndi Pereira.

Sometimes these three generations share the same motivations. While Millennials have frequently been touted as the generation more likely to involve themselves in programs to give back to the community, an Institute for Business Value study found that Generation X and Baby Boomer employees share a sense of obligation to make a positive contribution to society.

For the more sophisticated aspects of incentive programs—group travel and offsite meetings—it becomes more important to find ways to provide options that appeal to multiple participants. Meeting planners suggest picking destinations that offer a variety of options. According to the IRF, 20% of meeting planners said they will be moving some programs to “all inclusive” experiences. 15% said they are increasing on-site inclusions. Pereira suggested that businesses look at offering offering more options and opportunities to their travelers in addition to room gifts. Appealing to multiple generations also means ensuring your meeting site has all the amenities business travelers expect—especially fast Wi-Fi and an up-to-date digital presence.

Incentive travel won’t rely on broad generational assumptions for long. Most people are familiar with big data, though they may not realize the depth of its scope. Target can anticipate pregnant women’s due dates by cross referencing baby registries and product purchases. Big data solutions in the travel industry are topics that we’ve covered before on this blog and are sure to cover again as Travel and Transport releases new technologies. Companies can use big data to better target the desires of employees when it comes to their rewards and recognitions program. Instead of offering employee awards tailored to generations, businesses will be able to isolate meaningful incentives based on employees’ actual behavior or desire. The IRF study showed that incentives dramatically increase employee engagement and company success—incentive travel alone increases sales productivity by 18% and produces an ROI of 112%; thus, tailoring incentive options seems like a no-brainer. There are many ways to introduce or advance incentives in the workplace. Check out this infographic on Introducing gamification into corporate travel! 

The post How to optimize your employee incentive program by understanding generational differences appeared first on Travel and Transport.

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