Members of the incentive industry rightly spend much time parsing the motivational benefits of different types of rewards. But no matter how perfect a trip, piece of merchandise, or gift card may be for the recipient, if it's presented in an ineffective, impersonal way, it's unlikely to create the sort of long-term loyalty and engagement it should. However small or large, certain fundamentals can make the difference between a powerful award someone will cherish for years and something they will forget about by next week.
The Incentive Research Foundation offered insight into these questions last year when it released the results of a study it had conducted, examining the responses to different types of presentations, from a "Big Show" in front of the entire company to a private award accompanied by a note from the CEO. Examining biometric responses (such as pupil dilation) as well as stated preferences, of several dozen subjects, it found that a "Little Show" in which recipients are awarded in front of their work group and in which the award is presented by their immediate manager, proved most potent for individuals.
But scoring last, both in unconscious and conscious reactions, was the "Private" presentation.
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