There is a tendency for companies to see incentives, recognition and rewards programmes as interchangeable, whether they are aimed at employees, customers or prospects.
How an Incentive Works
“An incentive should have a time period, action or goal. It is the classic carrot designed to motivate, whether this is sales, commissions or some other aspect of performance.”
For incentives to be effective they must be in response to something measurable, rewarding the individual, or team, for reaching a specific goal, target or objective.
“Increasingly, employers are moving away from cash bonuses or other monetary incentives to offer something else tangible, such as promotional or branded gift items”
Incentives also work to encourage customers to sign up to services or offers, such as offering free gifts with magazine subscriptions.
“They are not the main event, but they act to draw people to it, to encourage take-up or involvement.”
The Importance of Recognition
“Recognition is discretionary. It’s not dependent on a specific goal being reached, but rather a way of acknowledging someone’s input.”
Unlike an incentive, recognition is not aligned to a definable metric. Rather, it is a way of demonstrating appreciation.
“Recognition may not necessarily be linked to a tangible reward but it might, however, be connected with someone’s behaviour, if, say, they have demonstrated a particular core value of a business or organisation”
The key thing about recognition, is that it is not about motivating someone to do something, though it can have a positive knock-on effect.
“A recognition programme is one of the building blocks of a positive workplace culture and can indirectly incentivise people to improve their overall performance, even if this is not its primary purpose.”
The Meaning of Reward
“Essentially, the reward is what you get for your efforts, whether this is through an incentive scheme or other rewards programmes.
The reward is designed to show gratitude to an employee, or customer. It is a prize.
“What matters is how you tie your reward into your objectives, whether these are sales or performance based. A mistake many businesses and organisations make is failing to clearly link the reward to recognition or achieving a goal.”
Consequently, a reward is only effective in the right context.
“You can tie a reward to recognition, but the most important component is not the reward itself but the recognition that it represents”
Therefore, rewards, and rewards programmes should work strategically.
“Incentives, rewards and recognition work differently, but can also complement one another as part of an overall engagement strategy,” Chris concludes. “The vital thing for any organisation to do is understand which of them will best suit their objectives and their workplace culture.”
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