School's in Session: Incentives that Make the Grade

3 min read

When I think about incentives, my mind instantly goes to sales people, as I would guess it does for most people. However, as we’ve mentioned before, incentives have a wide variety of uses from bringing clean water to a billion people, to ensuring healthcare professionals have good hygiene, to incentivizing wedding planners. The latest out-of-the box incentive use case I ran into was at a Texas University where professors are incentivizing students to fill out class evaluations. While the practice is controversial, you can’t deny the program’s effectiveness. “I used to get below 50 percent [participation] before I gave an incentive. Now I have close to 100 percent,” said Economic Professor John Harvey. Traditionally, the university had used a written SPOT, but to speed up the evaluation process they switched to eSPOT in 2012. The unexpected result of switching to digital evaluations was a 20% drop in student participation. Professors rely on these evaluations for valuable insight into their courses as well as accurate data when they are up for tenure or promotions, so it's important that students fill them out. Students responded enthusiastically to professors who were incentivizing with rewards like raffles and gift cards. One first year student, Drew Kirchner, said, “I wouldn’t complete my eSPOTs unless I had reason to do so, like extra credit or something.” Whether in school or in sales, the thing about properly used incentives is that they should always be a win-win. The incentives for students to complete evaluations benefits both them and their professors, and when sales people have properly written incentive compensation plans it’s a good thing for both the rep and the company. The rep makes a good commission, and the company reaches its goals. Xactly is an expert in sales performance management software and can help companies of all sizes and verticals ensure its incentives are driving the right behavior. Sources: