6 Ways to Use Rewards and Incentives in Higher Ed

  • author

    Hannah Prince

  • posted

    Aug 10, 2023

  • topic

    Academic Research, Employee Rewards

6 Ways to Use Rewards and Incentives in Higher Ed

While higher education institutions are an industry all their own, they still face many of the same challenges that every business or organization does. And, like those other businesses, colleges and universities can tap into the power of rewards and incentives for help.

Too much professor turnover? Trying to build your reputation as a research institution? Need to recruit and engage students better? It’s all possible with rewards and incentives. Here are six use cases for college and university leaders to consider.

Improving Academic Research Programs

Conducting research is a major part of many higher ed institutions, with everyone from graduate students to professors to full-time academic researchers getting in on the game. Rewards and incentives can benefit all those programs by increasing survey response rates and participation in clinical studies and focus groups, ultimately boosting the quantity and quality of data. Just be sure that any incentives and tools that your teams use comply with your Institutional Review Board and any other applicable regulations.

READ MORE: Check out all the ways academic researchers can benefit from rewards

Easing the Transition Back to Campus

The pandemic threw colleges and universities for a loop, and while most have returned to campus, things aren’t all back to “normal.” Even though many students recognize the benefits of in-person instruction, online education options have grown more popular. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 60% of post-secondary students were enrolled in online learning in 2021, vs. 36% in fall 2019, before the pandemic. In addition, some schools are now requiring COVID-19 vaccination for students returning to campus.

Schools can help make on-campus life a little more enticing by offering a gift card for a local retailer or restaurant on move-in day. They can also incentivize vaccination, especially if and when it becomes a yearly recommendation.

Increasing Professor and Staff Satisfaction

Higher ed requires a different workplace model than, say, a corporate office, but that doesn’t make employee satisfaction any less important. Especially since, like many other employers, colleges and universities are seeing more burnout and higher turnover among faculty and staff. Along with other wellness-boosting and retention-building strategies, appreciation and recognition are important pieces of the puzzle. Use rewards and incentives to celebrate teachers’ and staff members’ milestones such as work anniversaries, honor those who go above and beyond, recognize award and grant winners, and more.

Encouraging Student Participation in Campus Events

In this increasingly digital world, getting students out of their apartments to truly experience college can be a struggle. And it’s not only a question of their experience: Many campus clubs and groups rely on student engagement to help them with everything from raising funding to recruiting volunteers to attracting top speakers and performers. Offering a digital gift card for those who participate is a great way to sweeten the deal. (Plus, they’re college students — even a nominal reward should do the trick!)

Collecting Student and Employee Feedback

Incentivizing surveys isn’t just for researchers. It’s also important to help university administrators, leaders, and program managers to collect feedback on their programs, whatever that means. Different teams will want to solicit different feedback, from hearing what students want in their housing to understanding what professors and staff think of their benefits to comparing satisfaction for each department. These insights can help school leaders learn how to increase faculty and staff morale and retention, as well as student satisfaction and enrollment.

Boosting Recruitment Efforts

The world of higher education is getting ever-more competitive among colleges and universities. Sure, places like Yale and Harvard will always be leaders, but every institution needs to focus on attracting prospective students for reasons ranging from finances and prestige. Colleges and universities can offer gift card incentives to encourage high schoolers to visit the campus and meet with current students and teachers. Individual departments can also take advantage of rewards and incentives to recruit for their lesser-known programs at informational sessions and fairs.

The school year is about to start, so now is the time to see how rewards and incentives can help your institution meet its goals. Request a demo today!

about the author
Hannah Prince

Hannah is a reformed journalist who has more than 15 years of experience and now focuses on content marketing for innovative tech companies.

Hannah is a reformed journalist who has more than 15 years of experience and now focuses on content marketing for innovative tech companies.