How Bucket-List Incentives Drive Business Outcomes & Retain Talent

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New Zealand; Photo Credit: Paula May/Unsplash

In today’s rapidly changing business environment, attracting and retaining top talent is critical to overall success—we’ve known this for some time.

But the policies and practices that companies adopt to achieve this objective vary greatly among organizations. In current business conditions, employees are often expected to deliver in ways that exceed core requirements of their job. It’s in this area that incentive reward trips provide a highly effective means of motivating and retaining high performers, with the Incentive Research Foundation finding that non-cash awards work better for non-core job requirements.

An effective incentive program strengthens employee loyalty and increases workplace performance, not only among those who receive incentive rewards, but within the group of employees who strive to achieve the rewards. In this respect, smaller, domestic-based rewards programs can promote inclusiveness and company culture while rarer, high-budget, bucket-list incentive trips can provide the ultimate motivation within your company.

The excitement inspired by these trips is contagious—with the buzz building before, social media posting during, and storytelling and reminiscing in the office after it ends. When an incentive trip is taken, a new program cycle is typically well underway. Seeing this excitement first-hand before, during and after a trip naturally generates a desire among employees to work harder and earn their spot on the next trip.

Organizations offering incentive reward trips to desirable, bucket-list destinations are a step ahead in employee motivation and retention. When strong reward programs are a core part of your brand story, they set you apart and aid not just retention, but also recruitment of top employees. When you combine the anticipation of a spectacular reward trip with intrinsic drivers of success, the positive effects are reflected in consistent employee performance, superior customer experiences and business growth.

Adequately funding high-value incentive trips is something that requires companies to fully appreciate the true value of an increased investment in employee rewards. By linking a high-value reward to clear business objectives, companies can see a direct benefit to the company, while the reward itself will generate strong and long-lasting loyalty.

Many incentive programs offer trips to individual winners, and this is often appropriate. However, for high-value, bucket-list incentive trips, it is worth considering the option of allowing employees to bring a partner or guest with them. Showing appreciation for your high-achievers’ support network can create deeper loyalty and appreciation for the award.

Choosing a Bucket-List Destination

Apart from budget considerations, distance is another key factor in vetting destinations for incentives trips. Fortunately, rising air connectivity is enabling companies to consider destinations that were previously considered out of reach.

An area such as Auckland, New Zealand, is a bucket-list destination for many. Accessibility to Auckland through a greater number of global cities, including across North America, where new direct flights have increased connectivity by 29 percent in the last 12 months, means this exciting destination can be easily within reach.

When destinations hold an emotional appeal, employees will likely be undaunted by a longer travel time or the effort it takes to get there. The immediate benefits of arriving in a bucket-list destination, such as Auckland’s harbors, beaches, volcanic cones, native forests and gulf islands, will ensure the length of flight is soon forgotten.

Destinations such as Auckland additionally balance the benefits of an exotic location with the infrastructure to help address potential safety and secruity concerns.

The Employee Takeaway

Well-designed, unique incentive programs can improve morale and drive company performance and retention. To ensure company-wide morale remains high, incentives programs must be supported by rules and paths to success that are clear, fair, achievable, relevant and motivating.

Finding destinations that offer a strong sense of place and immersive, unique encounters is imperative in a world where our employees want local, cultural experiences. When you select a destination that offers the thrill of the unexplored, combined with a sense of comfort and caring, you have a great beginning. When you add in fantastic accommodations, various modes of transportation, unexpected venues and exclusive cultural experiences, you certainly won’t leave them with a feeling of “been there, done that!”

The advantages of balancing lower-budget incentives for smaller company milestones, with major, bucket-list incentive trips to exotic destinations, for your company’s standout performers are clear. They can provide a huge list of benefits to culture, retention and business outcomes—and this makes it well worth considering.

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