Tangible Incentives: Why Making Memories Beats Making Money

We understand that good employees deserve recognition, but the nuance of the reward is what really drives its impact.  Think of it this way: how many times have you received a $25.00 gift card as a birthday or Christmas gift? Sure, it could come in handy, but this also sends a message.  Essentially, the giver is saying – albeit subconsciously – that they don’t feel like putting some thought and effort into the present.  Maybe you don’t notice it, but this really is a small slap in the face. Rewards like these ones take zero effort, and if you’re not fond of them, neither are most employees.

When it comes to recognition, it’s important to show your best performers that not only do you recognize their contributions, but that they deserve something memorable – a special present, custom-made for them.

This is why Benefit One U.S.A. avoids awarding dollar value incentives, focusing instead on recognition points redeemable for things that truly spark interest.  Electronics, hotel tickets, flights and massages are just a few things we value over a simple gift card, which studies have shown to be ineffective and even counterproductive.

For instance, research conducted by McKinsey & Company explains that “…financial rewards mainly generate short-term boosts of energy, which can have damaging unintended consequences.” Basically, you might be investing untold amounts of money for something that could ultimately backfire. This isn’t exactly conducive to a productive and engaged workforce.

As an employer, this raises the question as to which tangible rewards have the greatest effect. The key lies in rewarding your team with something they’ll truly remember. Imagine the difference it’ll make when one of your staff has pictures on his or her desk from a vacation or special event you paid for – a constant reminder of your company’s appreciation for a job well done. Perhaps coworkers will realize the benefits of increased work ethic and consequently put in some extra effort to get a piece of the pie, so to speak.

Effective though it may be, this approach poses a conundrum that we help solve. Considering the diversity of employees, interests inevitably vary. For instance, it’s doubtful that the rugged outdoor enthusiast in Accounting will be too interested in a quiet mud treatment at a spa (although it’s certainly possible). That being said, you don’t have time to run a profile on each staff member’s likes and dislikes. Instead, our system puts these decisions in your employees’ hands, allowing high performers can cash in their points for over 3,000 possible rewards of varying values and sizes.  You avoid the guesswork, they get the perfect incentive and everyone feels appreciated.  When workers see an item that catches their eye, they’ll work tirelessly to obtain it – it’s Consumerism 101, and it works.

In the end, your staff plays a key role in helping the business succeed, so it’s only common sense to reward – and retain – the most talented contributors. If someone lands a huge account, they deserve much more than a few free meals at Applebee’s.  But when you offer incentives that have a real impact, you won’t simply be known as the boss who gives rewards; you’ll be the employer who creates lasting happiness.