Chances are you currently own a big-screen television, a high-tech mobile phone, a fancy coffee-maker, or possibly a deluxe outdoor grill. Do you remember when and where you got any of those items? Maybe you went to a big box store, or ordered it online. Maybe you scrimped and saved to get it, carefully doing heavy research and budgeting your expenses to be sure the cost was worth it. Or maybe – just maybe – you earned one or more of those items through your company’s incentive program. What’s that, you say? Earning a television? How is that possible? And why is that important?
Acquiring high-priced items through an incentive program adds extra value to an earned reward by providing “trophy value” – the lasting memory of receiving an incentive reward. The memory itself increases the value of the item earned by causing an emotional reaction in the recipient every time the item is remembered, used, or even just seen. Walking into the room and seeing that 4K flatscreen TV invokes the memory and acknowledgement of “I earned that through my hard work. My company rewarded my efforts with that, therefore, I am valuable to my company.”
I know what you’re thinking. Companies prefer a simpler approach and it’s so much easier to just add an extra bonus to employees’ paychecks. “Great job! Here’s an extra $250. Go buy yourself something special.” The problem with this modus operandi is that most people simply see this “bonus” as additional compensation and use it just as they would the rest of their paycheck – to buy groceries, put gas in the car, pay bills, or as mentioned above, save it to buy a much-wanted item later. By providing a variety of tangible merchandise to choose from instantly as a reward instead of cash, participants in an incentive program will invest more time and effort into their work in order to achieve and exceed their target goals.
The main value of a reward is not based on the cost of the item, nor the fact that a person qualified to obtain that reward. The true value of a reward is measured by how long one remembers why the reward was received – this is the “trophy value”, and yes, it is absolutely worth it.