We are all working harder these days, both on and off the clock. Not only has company downsizing resulted in office-workload supersizing, but trends toward automation have us pumping our own gas, processing our own banking transactions, checking ourselves in at the airport and checking our groceries out at the market. Unlike pumps, ATMs, kiosks and scanners, people occasionally need a little motivation and inspiration to keep running at optimum level. Sometimes, a simple pat on the back is all that’s needed to encourage someone to go the extra mile or two. A big, fat bonus check also does wonders for sagging spirits. But, is a monetary reward the best way to satisfy and motivate the individuals contributing to a company’s success?
In addressing the American Psychological Association, Dr. Charles Garfield—who has conducted extensive research in the field of human potential from the standpoint of professional and personal productivity—pointed out that money has not been in the top three rewards for working Americans for many years now. He went on to say, “Most of us hate not getting one of the most essential rewards of all; to be recognized, to be unique, to have made a contribution—and have it known.”
Research from the Incentive Marketing Association showed approximately 30 percent of U.S. companies use non-cash incentive rewards to improve performance, with more than 80 percent of incentives being tied to sales objectives. Wirthlin Worldwide—a consulting firm specializing in polls and their interpretation—discovered that although cash rewards still have wide appeal, sponsors of non-cash incentives exploit the important psychological distinction between compensation and “motivation” by playing to those highly personal aspects of incentive recognition. Furthermore, Wirthlin Worldwide’s survey of 1,000 employees in a cash-based incentive program found that 18 percent didn’t remember receiving the cash, while 15 percent couldn’t remember how they used the money.