Most companies start at the end instead of at the beginning when thinking about how they will influence, engage, motivate and recognize their employees and other business partners.
From a time and money standpoint - focusing on your employees, or other larger audiences first, is the least efficient, least effective and most expensive way to drive behaviors focused on your goals and objectives. Starting at the top of your hierarchy when putting your strategy in place will yield greater results and reduce your costs over the long-term.
Go Big Or Go Home is a Bad Strategy
Most companies start their discussions about incentives and recognition at the bottom. It seems to be human nature to think that targeting the largest group of employees (or channel partners, or consumers) is the best way to get to your goals. I don't know if targeting large audiences it is a dot-com hangover where we thought that getting big numbers was the holy grail of business but in the networked and connected world we live in now - getting the right group engaged is more important than getting the big group engaged.
And for companies that want engaged employees the right group is your company's senior leadership (and I mean senior -the board, CEO, COO, etc.) When your top levels are doing the right things - the investment in time and money on programs and interventions with the larger audience can be less because you've got their bosses and their bosses bosses reinforcing those programs... call it a forced multiplier if you will.
Please - start at the top and work your way down. I know it sounds counter-intuitive - but your best foundation for engaging your audience can only be built at the top of the structure.