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IRF Study: Top Tech Firms Boost Competitive Edge With Incentives

New research reveals how leading companies employ non-cash rewards.

Executives at top-performing technology firms are twice as likely as their counterparts at average-performing firms to regard reward and recognition programs as a competitive advantage, according to a new study by the Incentive Research Foundation. The study classified top-performing firms as those that demonstrated more than a 5 percent increase in revenue or stock price in 2018, year-over-year, and strong customer and employee satisfaction rates, based on information obtained from sources including the Fortune 500 and Best Places  to Work lists. Of the 118 technology companies reviewed, only 49 organizations made the cut, according to IRF president Melissa Van Dyke. The research also provides benchmarks and best practices to help technology companies design effective non-cash rewards programs.

Among the other findings in What Top Performing Technology Companies Do Differently for Incentives and Rewards   that demonstrate how top-performing tech firms employ rewards more than average-performers:

  • 33 percent are more likely to strongly agree that their reward and recognition programs are effective recruitment tools.
  • 22 percent are more likely to structure their programs with the goal of reaching each participant versus only recognizing the top performing participants.
  • 25 percent are more likely to look to outside partners for expertise on the best ways to recognize and incentivize their program participants.
  • They spend an average of $6,833 per person for their sales incentive trips, while average firms shell out an average of $6,000 per participant.
  • 21 percent are more likely than those at average performing firms to use financial metrics as program qualifiers.
  • They spend about 6.7 percent of participant income in annual spend for rewards and recognition.
  • They award a value of $4,292 on average to their top performers and $2,685 to their average performers in award points, merchandise and gift cards.
  • 20 percent are more likely to offer a top performer sales award, with 23 percent of them having that award include a group trip.
  • 13 percent award a variable versus fixed number of winners).
  • 14 percent have their awardees earn automatically on predefined goals versus committee selection intervention.
  • 9 percent are more likely to include achieving 100 percent of the predefined goal to qualify for a trip versus requiring their sales people to exceed their goal. 
  • 19 percent are more likely to provide simple rules for their program. 
  • 20 percent design tiered reward programs, offering both top-performer travel awards and also including award points, gift cards and merchandise for those salespeople who do not earn the trip.

This study is the first 2019 release in the IRF's signature series, Top Performer Studies.