When to use your company-owned sports and entertainment tickets for your own employees
Ahh yes, the oil to the machinery. While certain things like buildings, equipment, and even IP show themselves as assets on a balance sheet – we continue to need highly trained human labor to make those things hum.
Like everything in business, there is a cost benefit analysis to be had on the hiring, training, and retention of your employees. For companies that are sitting on a portfolio of company-owned tickets, it is very important to find the right mix for internal initiatives.
At Best.Day.Ever. – we are strong advocates of a centralized ticket approval system over a pre-allocated one, but for the cases of internal usage, pre-allocation is an essential strategy to ensure utilization is geared toward the benefit of your company.
Here are some methods we have found useful for the final post of our five-part series, ensuring your company-owned sports and entertainment event tickets help cut attrition and are optimized for your workforce.
1 – Where are the Gaps in your Labor Force Currently?
Every company, no matter the size, industry, or age, has issues within their employee base that can be addressed.
For some, they are great at hiring in new talent but then struggle to retain that talent. So they spend money and resources on training their employees only to have that training be utilized elsewhere (and usually within the same industry).
Other companies struggle to find the talent that can eventually lead the company, and as a result their executive team is a carousel of outsiders found by way of head hunters that takes time, effort, and money to get up to speed.
Each company is unique. Therefore, it’s important to start by identifying where the lapses might lie. We recommend meeting with the HR department to paint a clear picture for this.
2 – Strategize, Aim, and Fire
With the newfound wisdom acquired from completing step 1, you will be ready to develop a pre-allocation strategy that aims to drive results where it matters.
For the first example above – where the company struggles to retain talent – one could make a safe assumption that the majority of talent is leaving for either a greater compensation package or a better title.
Tickets to concerts and sporting events may not be perceived the same way a raise or flashy new title might, BUT it still holds a lot of value, especially in the form of priceless experiences.
For instance, think of the company loyalty built if Employee A is able to bring their husband and two kids to the NY Giants playoff game. Now think about that same situation, but with Employee A understanding that the tickets to the game were as a reward for their continued excellence in their role. Do you think that this employee will take for granted the fact that the company (A) recognized their dedication to the company’s mission, and (B) the company afforded their family – or more importantly their kids – the opportunity to create a memory that will last a lifetime?
What is important here is to match the experiences and memories with the employees that will generate the greatest impact. We suggest annual surveying of your work force to get an understanding of which events, artists, teams, etc. they would most like to see. Then you can categorize each employee with the information from step 1 to see where they fall when compared to the areas of need.
With a database that matches the wants and desires of your employees with the needs and gaps your company are experiences you will be better equipped to drive impact through these experiences. Begin to brainstorm employee reward contests that incentivize excellent performance and company loyalty. Think around ways to hold team bonding events that are less ad–hoc and more purpose driven.
Figure out what percentage of your tickets you would like to utilize internally. Make sure that you clearly define how much will go towards Executive use vs. Team Building vs. Employee Rewards – then get creative and begin to program out that usage. This should be done in collaboration with the department heads – as discussed in Part 1 of our series.
And remember to save a few points of use for your “overflow” utilization.
3 – Maintain an “Overflow” Policy
“Overflow”, or the tickets that are still available in the days leading up to an event, can be an opportunity for companies whether it makes up a large or small percentage of utilization.
This is another instance where it is important to have employee polling or surveys to know their entertainment preferences. You do not want to be caught in a situation where you are scrambling to fill tickets with hours before an event only to have them either go to someone who could care less OR going unused and left in a desk drawer.
Developing a policy based on time and fairness, then communicating that policy company-wide, is crucial to ensuring high-level optimization across the board. Best.Day.Ever. Recommends a 48 to 72-hour rule – meaning that at 48 to 72 hours before an event, any tickets that are have not already been allocated and accepted are subject to the Overflow policy. We can then turn to our employee base and either raffle the tickets amongst the eligible employees that fit the category and have expressed interest in this type of event or we can grab an executive and inquire if there is a specific employee they’d like to reward that has gone above and beyond the call of duty.
Again, ensure that this policy is articulated loud and clear. For large companies, this policy may be the only way some employees know of to get their hands on tickets.
4 – Like Always, Track Religiously
The IRS considers personal event tickets taxable under most circumstances. Many companies aren’t aware of the fact that they should be diligently tracking the use of personal tickets, and unfortunately may get caught blindsided.
Moreover, just noting that you gave tickets to Employee X may not be enough. Tracking the purpose of that utilization and who attended with them is of course of great relevancy.
Business entertainment is considered a non-taxable event but bringing your neighbor to a game because you are pals is clearly considered personal use and therefore the face value of those tickets should be treated as taxable compensation.
Additionally, you will want to be tracking the impact of your internal use programming. How does retention of various categories of employees change over a multi-year index? Can you compare that to a control group to infer correlation? Has Executive utilization increased or decreased and has that impacted turnover?
Tie the programs to the needs identified by Human Resources and collaborate on the results. This will enable your organization to be in a much better position when it comes to justifying the expense of these high-priced assets.
Different companies expect different things from their portfolio of entertainment assets. But if you are the one responsible for optimizing and reporting on the amount of return these assets bring, then you must be proactive with your need identification, strategy collaboration, execution, and tracking / reporting.
Give serious thought to the methodologies laid out in this series, apply them to your own company’s unique situation, and you will drive results.
Or you can always just give Best.Day.Ever. a call.