Measuring ROI

Tools and ideas to make the link between incentives and ROI

By Michelle Warren

Lack of recognition is the main reason Canadian employees are unhappy at work—and they are poised to get unhappier, with the number of Canadian businesses using rewards dropping to 61%, down from 69% in 2014. As budgets feel the pinch of an uncertain economy, rewards and incentives are often the first to go.

According to The 2015 Canadian Incentive and Rewards Trends Study by Berkeley Payment Solutions, a top reason organizations don’t use rewards and incentives is they’re hard to measure for success. Of those that have such programs, 23% of planners highlight difficulty in measuring program efficacy as the number one headache.

There’s a pattern here, but one that’s easy to debunk, with the industry offering many ways to measure ROI.

Measurement matters
“Since the recession, there is a really strong commitment to measurement overall, which is a big learning for many organizations,” says Melissa Van Dyke, president of The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), based in McLean, VA. In response, IRF developed its free Master Measurement Calculator tool. Planners plug in cost and expected outcome information to generate an email report that forecasts total costs, cost-benefit ratio, ROI and a data collection plan.

However, while periodically generated static reports are the norm, more companies are creating reporting portals, where planners and other key stakeholders can generate custom reports to see the myriad effects a program has on different aspects of a business—about 30% of respondents to a recent IRF survey say they are investing more heavily in such analytics.

“Companies are choosing more than one approach to measure the success of their program,” says Van Dyke. “It’s not about one metric any longer. The reality is you have to form partnerships with other departments—sales, technology, HR—to get data that you can start linking to outcome.”

Power of perceptions
Emotion metrics, such as engagement and performance, are equally important and usually involve follow-up surveys once a program wraps or a reward is granted.

IRF research shows 48% of firms conduct some type of analysis to understand how their program changes behaviour, while 42% look at participation reports to understand how people responded to and used the program.

“The step beyond that is X months down the line, measuring again to see if behaviour has changed in the longer term,” says Van Dyke. Savvy planners are also interested in the here and now, giving rise to a new trend in real-time measurement made possible by social media tools and apps (52% of planners use social media to enhance programs, while 21% incorporate mobile apps).

“By measuring engagement and happiness every day in a program, you see what people are thinking and feeling,” says Van Dyke. “It allows planners to make real-time corrections and make sure programs are hitting on all fronts. As we get better measuring there and then, the outcomes will be better later on.”

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