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Virtual Rewards 365: Powered by The Motivation Show and Rewards & Recognition Expo


How to Make Sure You Get the Best From Your Awards Investment

Steps to Success
Research and How-to Information

We’re glad you are using Virtualrewards365.com to source products, so here is some information about reward program design to get the most out of your investment.


Businesses spend over $75 billion annually on rewards and recognition, but surprisingly little is understood about the scientific basis for their use and how they can best be optimized to engage people. Many people are not aware of the extensive research available from the Incentive Research Foundation and Forum for People Performance Management and other sources that cut through the myths about using non-cash rewards. The reason is simple: the subject of engagement, incentives, rewards and recognition are not taught in most schools and receives scant coverage in the business media or book world. You are using non-cash rewards because for whatever reason you have found them to be affective, but more often than not, information about the use of non-cash rewards is negative based on a poor understanding of their proper use. Here is a quick overview of the science of rewards and recognition and resources you can access to further the effectiveness of your program.

Steps to Success

1. It starts with a program. Engaging people takes more than gifts—the greatest benefits occur when you have a clear objective for what you want a relationship to look like or what you are asking of people; a means of assessing and measuring, communicating so people know what they have to do; training to make sure people are capable of doing what’s asked, and finding ways to foster positive emotions.

2. Foster intrinsic motivation rather than extrinsic. When properly selected, communicated, and presented, non-cash rewards can have a major impact on intrinsic motivation; that is the part of us inspired from within. While cash is perhaps the best extrinsic motivator, non-cash rewards— when carefully selected for the recipients, effectively communicated to their communities, personally presented with sincerity, and offered in a way that can involve significant others—can help foster long-term emotional and intrinsic engagement in a way that is unique from cash compensation.  (See Research below.)

3.  Distinguish between rewards/recognition and compensation. If the purpose of your program is to thank and recognize people in a memorable way that rubs off on their co-workers or significant others, the obvious answer are non-cash rewards tailored to your recipients and presented in a personalized way.  If the goal is to compensate people, cash is the clear winner. There is extensive research and guidance on use of cash versus non-cash rewards from the resources below.

4. Focus on Presentation. Ironically, many companies go through a great deal of trouble to offer non-cash rewards but in a way that inadvertently confuses them with cash. When an organization offers people a vast choice of awards in a catalog or from a retailer, or offers a gift card, they are in effect giving people a cash equivalent. The magic of using non-cash rewards to engage is how they are presented—is your company name on the box?  Is there a personal letter inside?   Does a company executive send an e-mail after the delivery date?

Research and How-to Information

With the exception of corporate gifts, which are almost always presented in a personal way for expressions of thanks, most other rewards are offered as part of formal programs to increase customer loyalty and “net-promoter” scores; distributor engagement; sales and non-sales employee performance and wellness; vendor commitment, community involvement, and more.

To get the best out of rewards, all research indicates that they should be used as part of overall engagement programs that address all of the issues that affect engagement and performance.  Here are resources that can help you develop  more effective programs.

Enterprise Engagement:  The Textbook. The first formal curriculum and certification program on how to maximize performance through the engagement of key audiences includes a detailed chapter on Rewards and Recognition but within the context of overall programs. The textbook produced by the Enterprise Engagement Alliance based on input from dozens of corporate practitioners, educators, and engagement solution providers.  Check out specifically Rewards and Recognition, Webinar 12.

Engagement University. This is an annual conference of corporate practitioners, engagement solution providers and educators presenting different aspects of the engagement curriculum as well as case studies held this year April 6-8 at Opryland, Nashville, Tenn.

Enterprise Engagement Alliance.  This organization of leading corporate practitioners and engagement solution providers offers complimentary guidance on where to find information about this field and additional training and support for members.

Forum for People Performance Management and Measurement. A research group affiliated with the Medill School of Integrated Marketing Communications at the Medill School at Northwestern University. It has produced among the most significant original research in the area of business engagement.

Incentive Marketing Association.  The trade association of the incentive field offers education and a certification program on incentives, rewards, and recognition, and networking opportunities for buyers and sellers.

Incentive Research Foundation. This research group has produced an unprecedented array of research on all aspects of incentives, rewards, recognition, and engagement.  There is no better source for research in this field.

For general information, e-mail info@theeea.org or call 914 591-7600, ext. 230.

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