Many of us powered through college, or bypassed it altogether, intent on jumping into the deep end of the career pool. Little did we know that learning continues even after the job begins. In fact, corporate training programs and continuing education opportunities are now the norm for many industries, and groups that specialize in producing and providing career training are just as much in need of profitable promotional ideas.

Continuing education (CE) and workforce development are in more demand than ever; nearly 50 percent of U.S. adults participate in some type of formal CE that is not full-time enrollment, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. These non-traditional learners were the focus of a $450-million allocation by the federal government in 2014, which was earmarked for the promotion of CE and workforce development.

Companies that encourage or even require employees to participate in training or continuing education can make the most of their efforts by tying incentives to employee training and development goals.

Sean Roark, CPIM, co-owner and executive vice president of Spring, Texas-based distributor Promopros/Incentpros, and president of the Incentive Marketing Association, says incentives are the key ingredient to making a corporate training program better. “Incentives give someone a point to hang their hat on,” says Roark, who designs programs for his clients to help improve participation and performance in their workplace training efforts.

“If I can get someone to take fewer sick days  because they’re working to get a Cuisinart, that’s still fewer days they’re not at work. Once a habit of taking unnecessary days off changes, the new best practice becomes its own habit, and equally hard to break. I like to say that I get people to do the right thing for the ‘wrong’ reasons.”

However, says Roark, providing incentives for corporate training does more than just inspire immediate action; once employees are rewarded for participating, or recognized for their efforts, they start to look for things to do right. “The long-term positive effects that are created by that attachment remain with the employee after the program stops,” he says. When helping clients select items that will convey the right message, it’s important to make the distinction between promotional products and incentives, Roark adds.

“A promotional product is a vehicle for communicating a brand or a message. Incentives are vehicles for communicating appreciation and gratitude from the giver. Understanding that subtle difference is something I recommend people have the best grasp of before presenting a program to a prospective client.”

Want To Improve Your Client’s Corporate Training Program?

Start With These Questions

1 What are the client’s pain points?

What are they not achieving that the training program is put in place to achieve?

2 What is it about the solution that will excite the trainee?

What rewards would compel participants to remain attentive and produce desired results?

3 What types of rewards define or reflect the importance of those results?

Always have a clearly defined statistical measurement (increased scores, better attendance, more people getting vaccinated against flu) that defines the success of the use of the incentive.

Did You Know?

Corporate training traces its roots to apprenticeships and factory schools, which further evolved during the 20th century into individualized instruction, embedded training and integrated performance support. Now, e-learning is quickly becoming the preferred option for professionals who want to advance their educations. Companies such as edX,, ALISON and others offer massive open online courses (MOOCs) from accredited universities as well as certificate programs that can help students move up the corporate ladder.

Supplement continuing education and corporate training programs with products like these

Studious employees will appreciate a memo tape dispenser that lets them create the right size sticky memo every time, from 10 meters of tape. Customize it with a large britePix imprint.

BIC Graphic USA / PPAI 114187 /

Give a sweet reward with gift boxes containing premium chocolates or fresh-roasted nuts. Choose from five colors and more than 15 treats.

Maple Ridge Farms, Inc. / PPAI 114165 /



Slip employees this RFID blocker sleeve made of special paper that includes a metal alloy to protect debit and credit cards from skimming.

Fields Manufacturing / PPAI 111951 /

Never leave employees without office staples; give this portable office kit. Mini versions of a stapler, tape dispenser, highlighter and more are all contained in this compact case. Choose from a blue, green, orange, pink or yellow DriMark® Mini Max for the kit.

Beacon Promotions, Inc. / PPAI 113702 /



Let them study in style with a book‑bound Go Journal. Featuring a leather-like hard cover and debossed logo, the journal has 160 lined pages, a ribbon marker and matching elastic closure. Choose from black, navy, gray and red. Brighten up the training day with a full-color field journal. The glossy full-color journal can be customized with one- or four-color process printing on the cover, and is filled with 56 pages of 60-pound white lined paper and finished with two round corners and square back binding.

Drum-Line / PPAI 102565 /

Recognize top performers with a crystal light bulb‑shaped trophy that’s perfect for rewarding bright ideas and high achievers, and watch them rise to new challenges with a stainless steel, brain‑shaped metal puzzle pen set.

Minya International Corp. / PPAI 112523


Students can scribble notes in a pinch and mark them for later review on this pocket jotter with page markers. The polypropylene cover also features a 4.5-inch ruler. Inside are five 20-page adhesive-backed page markers, one yellow sticky pad and 40 pages of ruled paper. The cardboard back cover has metal double-ring binding.

Prime Line® / PPAI 112744 /

Health and wellness are top priorities, so these hand sanitizers with a silicone attachment in translucent, black or blue are great for reminding employees to stay well. The iced pear-scented gel is 65-percent ethanol, proven to help prevent infection from viruses, fungi and bacteria. Add the SPF 15 broad spectrum lip balm for defense against UVA rays.

Raining Rose, Inc. / PPAI 232508 /

An encouraging message programmed into the blades of the patented LED light-up smart fan will blow employees away. The powerful, quiet fan plugs into either Android or iOS smartphones with ease, and it can be programmed with up to four messages.

GlobalTech Branding Group, LLC / PPAI 537995 /


Case studies from the industry

A healthcare-industry company wanted to recognize staff members for their efforts as customer-facing employees, so they chose a custom “book” that features a gift inside. In this case, the gift was a custom-printed pillow cover. The book itself was printed in full color on both sides and on the spine.

Source: BookWear

An energy company in West Virginia wanted to improve safety performance throughout its mining operation, so it worked with a local distributor to develop an incentive program that encouraged miners, supervisors and safety directors to observe safety protocols and reduce the number of lost-time accidents.

The football-themed “Safety Bowl” assigned employees to teams, and awarded points that could be redeemed for a variety of items, including outdoor sporting goods, electronics, home appliances and lawn equipment.

As a result of the safety bowl, the energy company experienced its safest year in nearly 100 years of operation. Lost-time accidents were reduced by 47 percent over the previous year, and the company saved upwards of $5 million.

Source: Incentive Marketing Association

Top E-Learning Trends For 2017

Mobile Learning

Courses that can be accessed on multiple devices, and mobile apps for offline accessibility


Courses that are shorter than 60 minutes, offering multiple “nuggets” to create a learning path


Gamifying corporate learning to create a high-impact experience

Interactive Video

Uses include formal training and performance support

Social Learning

Trainees can network, share, collaborate and exchange ideas

Head Of The Class

A recent survey of more than 6,000 working adults by the Learning Resources Network found respondents are most interested in learning these skills for improving job performance.

1 Data Analysis

2 Social Media For Business

3 Finance And

Accounting For

Non-Financial Managers

4 Digital Marketing

5 Project Management

6 Entrepreneurship

7 Supervision

And Management

8 Customer Service

9 Leadership Development

10 Web Design

While They’re Young

K-12 education remains a market with numerous promotional possibilities. Pair one of these products with your school client’s next promotion for top honors.

Congratulate graduates with a ballpoint-click graduate pen for a guy or a gal.

Minya International Corp. / PPAI 112523 /

Incoming students start the year off “write” with a classic composition notebook. The coil‑bound notebook can be printed in one standard color and is filled with 50 perforated, lined sheets in standard rule.

Drum-Line / PPAI 102565 /

Keep the kids on schedule with a 2017-2018 student school planner. The 108-page planner includes study tips, communication tips and reference pages for spelling, punctuation and mathematics. A monthly July-June calendar section is included with ample space for daily notations. Customize the cover with a one- or four-color process print.

TruArt Advertising Calendars / PPAI 113270 /

Step up the school spirit and keep kids hydrated with an Oli double-wall acrylic tumbler complete with translucent lid and matching straw in school colors.

ADG Promotional Products / PPAI 111475 /



Win the race with youth Impact shorts featuring permanent moisture wicking and BodyFreshé treatment to inhibit the growth of odor-causing bacteria. The shorts are made with a six-inch inseam for comfortable coverage and an elastic waistband with interior drawcord. Choose from six colors. Complement the shorts with a youth Tec tee made from micofiber poly oXymesh™, treated with BodyFreshé and available in 12 colors.

Expert Brand / PPAI 267226 /