5 Ways Non-Cash Rewards Improve Performance

The Incentive Research Foundation's new academic review offers takeaways for motivating employees with tangible incentives.

A new academic review by the Incentive Research Foundation reveals how non-cash rewards can be used most effectively to drive results, as well as boost relationships, inclusion, trust, development and more between companies and recipients. The findings were based on an analysis of experiments reported in six papers, based on contributions from researchers at 11 universities in four countries.

The following takeways for programs were determined from the review:

  • Non-cash rewards, especially when delivered in a thoughtful, appreciative manner, can reinforce employees' strong sense of belonging with their firm
  • Luxury, non-cash rewards (e.g., fine-dining gift cards) typically drive better results than utilitarian non-cash rewards (e.g., grocery store gift cards) or cash rewards;
  • Goals tailored to past performance make them challenging, yet achievable; one-size-fits-all goals should be avoided;
  • Reintroducing a reward program at intervals over time can spark more motivation and promote engagement, an
  • When using rewards to garner creative contributions from employees, non-cash incentives and rewards are more effective than cash at motivating employees whose previous creative ideas were rejected to try again.