Employee Incentive Programs That Drive Global Employees to Go Above & Beyond

How a global organization changed their approach to provide meaningful and relevant incentives, recognition, and rewards for all employees.

employee being awarded with trophy during incentive travel trip

When Ecolab wanted to motivate and recognize their entire worldwide workforce—not just the top performing sales reps—they knew they needed to reconfigure their existing incentive programs to reach more team members, activate different groups and ultimately inspire greater sales growth. Leadership realized the organization was missing key business growth opportunities if it couldn’t motivate all 44,000 employees around the globe. 

By changing both their sales incentive and milestone anniversary award programs, Ecolab could recognize more of their hard-working employees and remain culturally relevant.

Reaching & Motivating the Whole Team With a Trusted Partner 

Ecolab had been working with ITA Group on other initiatives since 2012, so they already had a reliable partner with the expertise and capabilities to effectively configure the proper programs. Together, the teams analyzed the rule structure and data to identify ways to overcome pain points hurting sales growth. Using the analysis, we developed a plan to infuse motivational tactics into the program and inspire engagement across the whole team. This plan would reach more people, create greater visibility for the incentive trip and other awards, and incorporate quarterly content to broaden the earning opportunities. Together, the new elements would motivate all global workers to achieve their goals. The solution now includes more of the sales audience through tiers and improves the reward experience for employee anniversaries at the company.

Streamlining Execution to Focus on What Matters

ITA Group recommended adding more automation to both the sales incentive and employee anniversaries programs to improve efficiency while reaching more employees. Prior to the partnership, Ecolab had been handling engagement on their own, and the heavy workload took time away from other tasks. The custom-crafted solution used technology to:

  • Promote the trip and provide monthly progress updates
  • Communicate in multi-modal ways (e.g., email, video, technology, badging, etc.) 
  • Offer quarterly earning opportunities

The programs focused on making more workers eligible to be recognized in more appropriate ways—all while taking the burden of executing the program off the Ecolab team.

employee engaging with incentive platform on laptop

This team never misses a detail, and you are such a wonderful partner for us! I enjoy working with each of you and am excited to connect again [in the future]!

Nicole Focke, Director of Experiential Marketing

Maximizing Sales Achievements Through Tiered Incentives 

Ecolab‘s previous sales incentive program was divided in two—one program for global corporate sales and one program for field sales. In the old program, only 42% of potentially eligible corporate sales reps and 1% of potentially eligible field sales reps could earn incentive trips and catalog points which limited program growth.

After researching past winners from Ecolab’s previous sales incentive program, ITA Group recommended strategic program updates:

  • Engage middle performers
  • Frequently recognize team members in front of peers
  • Highlight lower-tenure employees’ accomplishments 

The updated program inspires up-and-coming earners to eventually join the top 1% of key account managers.

Tiering Goals by Business Segment 

Ecolab has a high-performance culture and expects to hit all sales targets. But those targets are just the baseline requirement. For long-term growth, sales reps needed to go above and beyond stated sales targets. Improving the incentive program drove corporate goal achievement by encouraging all sales team members workers to sell more products. 

They implemented a segmented program with an earning structure focused on sales target metrics differentiated by each key account manager’s performance level. 

Each level of performers had its own designated budget to reward achievement with second-to-none awards. The tiers enticed sales reps to elevate their performances so they could enjoy more valuable awards and company recognition.

1. Top 1%: Highest level awards to drive sales growth through competition and a sense of status

2. Mid-Level: Appropriate-level awards that inspire and allow eventual movement into the top tier

3. New or Lower-Level: Smaller awards for production and learning goals to encourage improvement

Personalizing by business unit further motivated each level of employee to meet unique goals and opened the door for more employees to earn in the program at lower levels.

employee incentive leaderboard on mobile device

Using More Effective Touchpoints to Drive Engagement

As Ecolab’s trusted partner, ITA Group helped design and manage the annual incentive trip, promoting it with a multimedia launch campaign, including an engaging online microsite that built excitement and told the story leading up to the trip. By allowing us to manage the details and registration, Ecolab could focus on what mattered—the employees, their achievements and the overall experience. 

Strategic communications added an element of fun and built employee buy-in for the program. Participants received monthly progress updates and gamification elements like badges, and leaderboards promoted behaviors Ecolab wanted. Plus, the quarterly sales contests, business unit trophies, annual incentive trip and enticing online awards storefront all sweetened the award packages.

The highlight of the program is the incentive travel and global awards online storefront which contains compelling awards that resonate with all business units around the world. Having two levels of incentive travel experiences gives Ecolab the opportunity to include, encourage and recognize more employees.

Sales reps around the world are meeting sales goals year over year to stay in the program and qualify for more amazing adventures. To date, approximately 1,500 winners have been celebrated, with 21% of those being repeat winners.

Celebrating Milestones in Meaningful Ways

In addition to recognizing sales achievements, Ecolab wanted to revamp their milestone anniversary awards so they could reach employees outside the sales team. Ecolab found a tangible way to show all employees how much their contributions, hard work, and service mattered to the organization and its purpose. 

Creating a Consistent Global Award Experience

As a growing global organization, Ecolab’s celebration of milestones had to be consistent across each business unit but still personalized so all awards were culturally relevant. No one-size-fits-all solution could adequately recognize all. The online anniversary storefront ITA Group developed gave global workers the power of choice so each award could resonate, whether the worker was located at the Minneapolis headquarters or abroad.

Employees received digital catalog points to redeem for meaningful items on their 5th anniversary and every five years after. Points expire after 100 days, which encourages participants to redeem points and tie their recognition item to their milestone achievement. 

Each recognition also includes mementos of appreciation, such as an e-letter from human resources and a service award pin. The pin has even become a company tradition—many employees like to display them.

Improving Milestone Recognition Matters

Employees have responded positively to the updated milestone anniversary recognition program since its implementation. 

ITA Group continues to manage the program and suggest ways to improve it to remain relevant as the workforce environment changes. The experts at ITA Group share recommendations based on current data about reward intervals so employees are recognized at key moments in their journeys. The collaboration has resulted in a program that reaches more of Ecolab’s team than ever before.

employee incentive awards catalog
graphs showing employee incentive program statistics

Elevating & Supporting Overall Employee Experience

Ecolab has created new opportunities to recognize, reward and communicate with their entire workforce. 

The segmented approach to the employee experience programs, including sales incentive programs and anniversary awards, allows Ecolab to reach previously unreachable employees, consistently showing all team members how their daily work is essential to the organization’s overall success throughout the world.

Key Results

charts showing key results from the program