The Importance of Incentives — Part 4: Cash Isn’t King

carrotWhat could possibly be a better motivator than a big pile of cash? You may think nothing could top that, but studies have consistently shown non-cash incentives to be a far better motivator of employee performance than cash rewards. If that’s the case, it’s probably time to invest in some creative and unique incentive programs to really get the gears turning. We’ve already discussed that people are a company’s greatest asset, so it’s important to do more to engage, entice and retain the top talent that makes a business special.

There is really no better way to further the goals and vision of a business than by recognizing and rewarding excellence in the people who comprise the foundation of the company. It’s really convenient to reward employees with cash, but it’s unoriginal and it certainly isn’t memorable. Thinking outside the box while displaying thoughtful creativity leads to engaging, meaningful appreciation among employees.

This belief is backed up by a number of studies. From a recent University of Chicago Study, “What employees say they want and what they work hardest to achieve does not always match up.” More support comes from a study conducted at the University of Zurich, “A gift-in-kind results in a significant and substantial increase in workers’ productivity. An equivalent cash gift, on the other hand, is largely ineffective.”

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Given this type of response, it becomes clear that cash rewards often aren’t enough to affect behavior. To effectively motivate and drive performance, incentive programs are far more influential. There’s no sense in a cash dump that doesn’t reap rewards, especially when an incentive program or event of equivalent value will boost performance. This again raises the crucial question: Can you afford not to run incentive programs?

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