by Leo Jakobson | November 20, 2014
It is our pleasure to announce the finalists of Incentive's sixth annual Motivation Masters Awards. This year, we've selected 11 of the best entries that we received in three different categories: sales incentives; channel and dealer sales programs; and broad employee engagement and recognition programs. These awards celebrate the best, most effective, and most creative incentive and engagement programs of the year, showcasing what truly great incentives look like. We will announce the category winners and the Grand Motivation Master in our January/February 2015 issue of Incentive.


Company: Eaton Corporation
Provider: Globoforce
Date: May 1, 2013 - Current

With 100,000 employees and $22 billion in revenue in 2013, Eaton, a manufacturer of power management products for electrical, hydraulic, aerospace, and vehicle systems, has a stated corporate vision of being the most admired company in the markets it serves. The company believes that in order to accomplish this, a highly engaged workforce is not just desirable, but necessary.

In 2013, the multinational firm turned to employee recognition provider Globoforce to help it build a comprehensive employee recognition program. The goal was to give all employees, regardless of their roles, departments, business, or geography, the opportunity to recognize and celebrate the contributions, achievements, and successes of their co-workers. The result was the E-STAR program, which allows any employee to recognize another.

There are 10 award levels, including ones that come with points good for a catalog of gift cards redeemable from local merchants around the world, with values ranging from $30 to $1,000. Reward options include shopping, dining, entertainment, travel, adventure, and charitable donations. An aggressive and comprehensive communications strategy accompanied the launch. Managers receive in-depth, monthly reports on recognition handed out by, and to their staff. Those results are announced at all monthly staff meetings, and are incorporated into Eaton's performance review system.

The program is judged on the number of employees who use the system to recognize co-workers, the number of employees recognized, and annual engagement scores. Use of E-STAR has been growing each month, with nearly half of all employees offering recognition and 82 percent receiving it in the program's first year.

Company: Schweppes Australia
Provider: Solterbeck
Dates: Sept. 29, 2013 - Ongoing

The aptly named Schhhwepic recognition program came into being after soft-drink company Schweppes Australia was sold to Asahi Breweries in 2011. In 2012, the new head of human resources looked at the company's legacy service program and informal recognition efforts  -- which consisted of movie tickets, bottles of wine, etc. -- and decided that a more comprehensive and well-designed points-based employee recognition program was in order. It would consist of a catalog of gift cards, merchandise, experiential awards, and use philanthropy to drive engagement among the company's approximately 2,000 employees -- as well as help the new management achieve its broader goals.  

By recognizing the right behaviors, the ultimate goal of the program is to advance the company's key Success in Store retail initiative. Attracting and retaining talent; consolidating ad-hoc recognition into one centralized and measurable program; and making recognition as much about appreciation as rewards round out the program's main objectives.

Schhhwepic has three tiers:
 A spot recognition program with electronic and paper "thank-you" cards that do not require manager approval, and points-based instant awards requiring approval
 An excellence-driven program, in which peers or managers can nominate employees based on exemplary behavior or significant contributions, on a quarterly and annual basis
 A length-of-service program, replacing the old "every five years" model with one offering the earlier recognition expected by Generation Y and Millennial employees

An aggressive communications program was debuted at the launch of the program, with regular reinforcement thereafter. Schhhwepic was used 5,600 times in the first six months, with 68 percent of employees receiving recognition -- well above goals. The company also has a diverse workforce spread across 33 locations, with employees in sales, manufacturing, and delivery -- only 20 percent of whom have desk jobs.

In addition, more than 90 percent of employees and managers said they like the program; 87 percent said it is important or critical to receive recognition; and more than 93 percent said it is important or critical to give recognition. Finally, by regularly measuring and reporting on usage, and making managers responsible for ensuring the program is being used in their regions, the goal of making recognition part of "the daily operating rhythm of the business" has been achieved.

Company: Ricoh Americas Corporation
Dates: April 1, 2013 - March 31, 2014

A global technology company specializing in office imaging equipment, production print solutions, document management systems, and information technology services, Ricoh Americas relies on its 12,000 field technicians to tailor solutions to meet customers' specific needs and challenges, as well as sell its products and services. The Service Technology Achievement Recognition (STAR) program combined training, recognition, and extensive live testing, with winners participating in a gala incentive trip to St. Maarten, in the Caribbean.

Although it is an annual program, STAR is modified each year to reflect Ricoh's initiatives and needs. This year, the program increased beyond the field technicians to incorporate other service departments as well as service managers.

The first two sections of the three-stage competition tested participants, first on company knowledge and important initiatives, and secondly on more advanced technical knowledge, winnowing the field to the top 200. During the third stage, participants met at the Main Event, a live two-day competition in which finalists were tested on their service abilities, customer solutions, and product knowledge. Vendors participated and donated several high-value items to raffle off as prizes.

The Main Event competition included a number of tests:
 The Hot Seat -- Participants were presented with five "real-life" scenarios to assess how they might handle common customer situations and apply Ricoh's core values
 Functional/Technical -- Field technicians had to identify, diagnose, and repair failed components, while employees from other divisions had to demonstrate equivalent technical expertise
 Customer Opportunity -- Participants had to recognize potential sales opportunities
 Teamwork -- Participants were broken into teams that had to think on their feet and work together to complete a task
 Jeopardy! -- A game show-style competition in which teams demonstrated knowledge of Ricoh policies, procedures, and other initiatives

After the various competitions concluded, the chairman and CEO of Ricoh Americas Corporation arrived to deliver a live announcement of the top 100 winners, all of whom would go on an all-inclusive, five-day, four-night incentive trip to St. Maarten. Service managers were also eligible based on their customer response time success, gross profit improvement, parts inventory management, and customer satisfaction scores.

An extensive communications campaign accompanies each part of the STAR program, including extensive video coverage of the Main Event. Surveys show that the STAR program participants were highly engaged and energized by the program.On the ROI front, the program's success was judged largely based on customer loyalty, specifically first service call effectiveness and increase in responsiveness to customer requests. The company's customer loyalty index score grew 11 percent based on annual customer surveys, and revenue grew 10 percent based on key components within the STAR program.

Company: Creative Group, Inc.
Dates: March 24, 2014 - Ongoing

One of the keys to the long-term success of any incentive or recognition program is understanding that it must continually be reviewed to see if it is working, what changes should be adopted to reflect the current state of the company, and how it can be made better.

With a "physician, heal thyself" mindset, Buffalo Grove, IL-based incentive house Creative Group took a long, hard look at its own, internal recognition programs for its 145 employees and found that a complete overhaul was in order. Participation levels in the company's four programs -- peer-to-peer recognition; idea generation; service awards; and a program seeking sales leads from non-sales employees -- had declined over the years, and needed both clarification and reinvigoration.

These four separate programs were combined into one, Excelevate, with the goal of increasing participation by 50 percent, driving behaviors in alignment with the company mission, and adding a social component to the rewards and recognition mix. Aside from recognition, two points-based rewards are now offered: "Grats" points, which are good for things such as an extended lunch or an extra vacation day, and the Excelevate Reward Discover card, provided to all employees at the program launch, which can be used at more than 200 merchants.

A single website provides access to the six new categories:
 excelPerformer: Peer-to-peer recognition -- a personal and public "thank you" via e-cards and simultaneous posting on an internal "Facebook-like" website
 excelAchiever: For going above and beyond toward the firm's four strategic pathways; it is recognized via the rewards card
 excelThinker: For new ideas; it is recognized via the rewards card
 excelLeader: Rewards leadership greatness by non-management employees; it requires senior leadership approval and is recognized via the rewards card
 excelLoyalist: An automatically generated service anniversary program; it is recognized via rewards card
 excelBeyond: An open-ended program that allows individual departments to set short-term goals; it is recognized via Grats points or the rewards card

A substantial communications program helped to launch the program. In just the first five months, program participation was more than double that of the entire previous year, and will be nearly 600 percent if it continues on its expected pace. Participation is at 88 percent. The company is seeing its best sales year in history, with very positive customer satisfaction, and it attributes much of this success to the Excelevate program.

Company: Canon U.S.A.
Provider: Rymax Marketing Services
Dates: Jan. 1, 2013 - Jan. 1, 2014

Canon U.S.A., a manufacturer of consumer, business-to-business, and industrial digital imaging systems, turned to Rymax Marketing Solutions to overhaul its traditional every-five-years employee service awards program into one better suited for a multigenerational workforce. The company found younger members expect recognition sooner, and want more choice when it comes to the awards associated with employee service.

To do this, Rymax Marketing switched Canon U.S.A.'s length-of-service awards program to a points-based program in which employees received an increasing number of points for each year of service. Awards were also given earlier, a key to satisfaction for Millennial employees.

The new program allows the 2,700 employees a substantially greater choice of awards, with more than 8,000 merchandise products from 200 well-known brands. A new program website made it easier to track employees' milestones, manage the recognition portion of the awards, and track usage. Emails are sent automatically to the employee and his or her supervisor, and employees have three months to redeem these points. Automatic reminders go to those who have not chosen an award. Employees also have the ability to split their points between multiple awards, and to "buy up" to an award with matching points up to the number initially awarded.

As a result of the changes, satisfaction with the program rose to 96.4 percent, and managers receive more information with less work.