The 2018 Motivation Masters Category Winners

The winners of this year's Motivation Masters category awards demonstrate the best of incentive programs

Incentive's annual Motivation Masters awards celebrate outstanding reward and recognition programs and this year's winners were a particularly impressive group. Earlier this year, we celebrated Grand Motivation Master Global Furniture Group, which credited its incentive travel program with driving as much as 9 percent of its annual sales. Now we are spotlighting the three category winners of the 2018 Motivation Masters awards.

Channel Winner: Next Level Performance and Mercury Insurance

Keeping motivation high among channel sales partners is a major priority for Mercury Insurance, which offers personal automobile, homeowners, renters and business policies. To drive sales among its independent brokers and agency owners, Mercury worked with Next Level Performance on the Treasures of Tuscany program. With an 8 percent annual sales growth target, participants in the program had a chance to earn a five-day trip to Florence, Italy and the wider Tuscan region. 

Next Level Performance worked with Mercury to develop communications (a printed calendar, promotional video, postcards and more) that conveyed the program goals and attractions of the destination before, during, and after the program, connecting each branded piece to the theme of the outstanding experiences that awaited in Italy. 

And outstanding experiences did indeed await. The winners enjoyed activities such as historical walking tours of Florence, a Great Restaurant Event that included top-notch Italian dinners, excursions into the city and outside of it and an over-the-top final night in which Mercury executives recognized top-performing agents and reps.

"The opportunity to spend face-to-face time with top performing agents, reps, and staff addressed two core Mercury values: People and Product Value," says Dave Dittman, president of Next Level Performance. "By bringing company leadership and agents into an intimate and non-corporate setting, the program developed a deeper bond between Mercury and the agents."

The results exceeded expectations. The 2017 incentive trip generated a better than 100-to-1 ROI for the year and a 99 percent satisfaction rating for the trip. Agent/rep conversations about the trip increased 450 percent over the previous year, with communications contributing to a 400 percent increase in awareness about the program compared to previous years.

"Beyond the positive growth and reward of a once-in-a-lifetime trip, Mercury fostered a greater connection with attending agencies, and provided important networking opportunities for high achievers," says Dittman. "By committing to excellence in communication, a highly desirable location, and on-going service to agents and customers, Mercury and Next Level Performance crafted a well-designed, successful incentive program."

Sales Winner: Bishop-McCann and Verizon

Verizon's top sellers had a chance to become part of the Verizon President's Club, in which 250 winners earned a five-day trip to Aruba. The 2017 program, "Up, Up & Away Aruba" was Produced by Bishop-McCann, which handled every step of the program, from attendee communications to the custom registration website and communications app to the recognition ceremony and both the on and off property events.

A blow-out beach party capped off Verizon's Up, Up & Away Aruba program

"Elevating this trip to the next level will help this telecom company continue to motive their achievers further in the coming years," says Dave Eckberg, CMP, CMM, director of operations for Bishop-McCann.
Bishop-McCann's in-house production team worked closely with executives to create an engaging recognition ceremony starring America's Got Talent finalist Mike Super. Its events team created immersive experiences that ranged from a blow-out beach party to a "white party" set among the dramatic rock formations in Aruba's Arikok National Park state park. Other activities included an experiential island fantasy beach day and a massive closing night gala.
Attendee surveys came back with very high ratings, with and comments such as, "This was the most amazing experience I've ever had on any incentive trip and drives me to continue performing so I can come back again," and "This was my 4th time qualifying and this one was the absolute best."

Recognition Winner: O.C. Tanner and Ohio Living

Ohio Living, the largest and most experienced not-for-profit provider of life-plan communities and home-health and hospice services in Ohio, sought to create an employee recognition solution to help motivate its workers across their 20 locations throughout the state. Working with O.C. Tanner, they simplified their lengthy list of 13 "belief statements" into six key company values — customer service, integrity, care, leadership, financial stewardship and innovation — and created a recognition program aimed at celebrating each of these values.  

Ohio Living also worked these values into its employee review process, making it so every single associate is evaluated against the six values during performance appraisals. The program encourages managers and employees to find opportunities to acknowledge "greatness at work," through verbal affirmations, thank you cards and above-and-beyond awards, all of which spotlight employees who exemplify a key company value. Ohio Living makes sure each new employee is also taught this recognition philosophy during onboarding and extensively invests in leaders to create this shared purpose. The organization recognizes years of service for employees with certificates, presentations and commemorative items, and also uses O.C. Tanner's mobile app to give immediate acknowledgment of great performance on a regular basis.
The organization has 3,200 employees with an average of 3,000 monthly thank you e-cards delivered to employees, with some months exceeding 4,000. Ohio Living credits the program not just with raising awareness and aligning values but with improvement in employee engagement, turnover, customer satisfaction and improved patient health outcomes. Within the last year, the company reached its highest quality outcomes in its history with the greatest number of healthcare five-star ratings, the highest employee opinion survey engagement scores and the national Great Place to Work designation.