Is This the End of Recognition and Rewards?

April 16, 2020

With more than one-fourth of the economy at a standstill coupled with impending companywide layoffs how can companies possibly keep their work force, sales teams and support staff motivated, recognized and rewarded at a time like this?

Needless to say, most travel incentive programs will either be re-scheduled or simply cancelled for the foreseeable future. Certainly, a small inconvenience compared to what our health workers are facing on a daily basis as well Americans struggling to make ends meet and, in some cases, dealing with the loss of loved ones, friends and colleagues. 

The good news is that there will be an end to this but what does the new normal look like? Will companies hold meetings, tradeshows and incentive programs? Will this be a phased in approach as the virus is slowly eradicated? 

As companies look for ways to keep their workers motivated ignoring the need for alternative incentive programs and recognition could prove costly and only add to the problem. With layoffs, cash flow issues and lower sales projections it seems that the last thing management is worried about is keeping their remaining work force motivated. 

It’s important to realize the importance of recognition and rewards and how they affect productivity and a general sense of well-being. Human beings are programmed to seek approval from their very first days of life. The need for a pat on the back, that word or smile of acceptance from our friends, family, employers and clients is very important to each one of us because it tells us that what we have done is right, important and worthy of notice. 

Seeking recognition and reward is a basic survival instinct. Our contributions allow us to stay within the tribe especially when there’s danger lurking close by. Let’s face it, we’re all still cave men and the most important thing is to not get eaten by saber tooth tigers and to gain status within our tribe by either killing the saber tooth tiger and / or finding food for our mates and offspring. 

It’s been proven that the need for recognition is the most powerful motivator within each one of us and only a close second to food, water and shelter. 

The burning question is how do you keep your work force positive, motivated and recognized in times like these as well as maintaining that sense of community and connection while being separated for so long? 

Since we really don’t know when it will be safe for everyone to travel again, one solution may be to implement an alternative non-travel incentive program where your work force is recognized and rewarded for going above and beyond the call of duty. These actions may include maintaining client relationships, creating cost saving ideas or helping the local community. This may include not only earning points for achievement but also allowing your employees to be recognized for posting videos of special inspirational moments with family, friends and their community. 

The rewards can come in the form of cash or non-cash merchandise awards. The difference between cash and non-cash awards is that cash is the most expensive and least effective form of motivation.  Cash becomes lumped into standard compensation and it’s harder to differentiate the reward from a base salary and standard commissions.

Several principles of social and cognitive psychology suggest that participants may perceive non-monetary incentives to be more valuable than the retail value of that award in cash. For example, acknowledgement from peers and other dynamics can extend the value of non-cash incentives over and above the cash value of the incentive. This has been referred to frequently as trophy value. 

A coveted merchandise award creates separability from cash compensation thus making the award unique, justifiable and elicits a sense of pride and accomplishment every time the item is used. 

Our online award catalogs included thousands of merchandise award items and awards can be customized to fit the demographic and needs of the participants

In any event, the need is real, and the most important thing is to reassure your people that we will all get through this together.

For more information on alternative incentive programs please contact:

[email protected]

By: Jack Hartley


Event Connections Group

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