The David Riddell Memorial Scholarship, created in memory of SITE Past President David Riddell, provides an opportunity for worthy individuals to participate in SITE educational programs. This year the SITE Foundation Board of Trustees selected four scholarship recipients based on financial need, nomination from a SITE Chapter leader and their contributions to SITE as David envisioned. The scholarship will fund costs to attend the SITE + MPI Global Forum in January. Gary Gaughan, Project Assistant for Ovation Ireland is one of the scholarship recipients. Here is an excerpt from his winning essay.

Motivating employees is what gives them the drive and passion to carry out their job with happiness. In any industry, during good or bad times, this is important to engagement, efficiency and productivity. While motivating employees can be difficult due to budget constraints, a widely varied workforce or historic systems, in today’s competitive business environment it is critical for organisations to make motivation a priority.

With new and younger generations in the workforce there is a shift in what motivates employees. Millennials are steering away from financial gain and monetary rewards and are looking more for career progression and life experiences. Motivating through feel good experiences is becoming a far more productive way to engage and retain employees.

When organisations are going through difficult times, the historic decision is to scrap incentives, cut pay and skim anything that wasn’t directly creating revenue. Although it may make financial sense, with today’s multi-generational work force these cuts may come across as an organisation not appreciating its employees. Instead, organisations need to become more creative in how they motivate and energize their staff. It may mean that they alter the way they recognize and reward employees. Instead of doing company-wide incentives, they may want to let employees choose their own, personalized benefits, allowing them to customize how they are rewarded.

With today’s connectivity and ease of travel there is less of a “wow” factor with destinations, because people are so well travelled. With this in mind, incentive buyers and suppliers need to consider what they are offering and how they are packaging it. What can people get from destination A that they cannot get from destination B? Incentive professionals need to constantly innovate the services and messages they are putting out to the marketplace. They also need to work harder to create a more meaningful experience for their clients and justify how the experience will create a stronger bond between employees and the organisation.

Motivating employees is complex and the reasons for using incentives can be so diverse. It poses the question why don’t incentive industry professionals partner with their clients to create more meaningful experiences? The industry needs to constantly communicate and provide proof that that incentive travel will not just reward employees, but will increase retention, engagement and employee empowerment. Offering extra services or alternative approaches provide that added value, especially when budgets are tight.

When motivation is paramount to organizational success, it is important that incentive professionals tap into resources and networks such as SITE, the only global community dedicated to incentive travel. SITE provides many opportunities for incentive professionals to connect with others across the world to learn and grow, in order to strengthen their business and the incentive travel industry as a whole.

Speaking with other industry professionals, we agree that there needs to be more collaboration amongst incentive practitioners. Although at times we may find ourselves in competition, as an industry we need to work together to share ideas and motivate one another. SITE allows this to happen by bringing like-minded people together to collaborate and challenge each other in a constructive environment. Being a member of SITE and participating in SITE Young Leaders has played a pivotal role in my own motivation to travel, learn and share with people in similar situations.

The SITE + MPI Global Forum will be an excellent opportunity to bring these experiences to life. I am honored to be awarded the opportunity to participate in this prestigious event, which will aid in my learning and enhance my career in the incentive industry.