IMA Summit: 3 Take-Aways on International Programs

IMA Summit: 3 Take-Aways on International Programs

August 6, 2015

Business is increasingly global. Whether it’s a call center abroad or a regional office in London, more and more organizations are expanding their networks internationally. And employee engagement initiatives are not limited to the local team. The brand values of the organization and the effort to inspire the best efforts of the whole team are not subject to borders. For many companies, that’s a challenge. How do you deliver the right message and the right rewards internationally?

Many sessions at last week’s Incentive Marketing Association (IMA) Summit addressed that very issue. Here are the top three take-aways on running international programs:

1/ Engagement is a Hot Topic Abroad

The UK has a national campaign for employee engagement. Statistics show that 96% of workers enter the workforce wanting to do a great job, but only 30% report being engaged, which means it is unlikely they are doing their best or reaping the rewards of mutual success. That’s a significant gap to close.

engage-for-successThe British government has determined that increasing engagement is a better investment than foreign trade and they are addressing the problem with the Engage for Success initiative. They created this video to make the case for engagement.

And the UK is not alone. The IMA Summit included attendees and speakers from Canada, Brazil, Mexico, India, Germany, and France, among others. Engagement is an important business strategy worldwide.

2/ Standard of Living is Variable

Rewards should be appropriate to the effort required to attain them. Standards of living, however, can vary widely within one multi-national corporation. $100 in the US has a very different purchasing power in other countries.

Some clients handle this by applying the same US value worldwide. This makes the relative reward value much greater in some places, but avoids any perceived inequality.

Other companies prefer to use formulas adjusting for standard of living, so that the reward remains relatively the same, in terms of impact on each participant’s life.

3/ Make It Relevant and Easy

Local customs can have a big impact on reward selection and on ease of use. Simply packing up a reward from one country and shipping it to another may miss the mark.

Global incentive industry partners have the knowledge needed to adapt for the local environment. They can help select an array of merchandise or gift cards that works for the local population. They can also provide service levels that meet or exceed local expectations.

In order for an award to be meaningful – and for the program to be successful – it must be thoughtful and desirable. To be appreciated by the participant, it must be relevant to their lives and easy to redeem and use. Local knowledge is critical to success.

We expect to see continued growth in international recognition and incentive programs. With improving technology and communications, it is increasingly important to get it right. A well-planned program can get the brand message through to the far reaches of the globe. And it can help to create a company community, even when it is impossible to meet face-to-face.