Why Understanding Motivation, not Preference, is Key to Developing Successful Reward Programs

New IESP White paper “Finding the Best Motivator – Tangible Rewards vs. Cash” reviews the science of what motivates and why cash may be preferred but is not as effective as tangible rewards.

MINNEAPOLIS — Nov. 2, 2020 — A new white paper from the Incentive & Engagement Solution Providers (IESP) “Finding the Best Motivator – Tangible Rewards vs. Cash,” provides a deeper understanding of what potential recipients say they want vs. motivation drivers, and how employers and sales leaders can use this information to shape reward programs that increase motivation and improve business performance. 

Brant Dolan, IP, director business development, Quality Incentive Company, an IESP board member and past president; says it's important for company leadership to embrace the behavioral science around what motivates employees, not what they tell you they want.  “Our preferences tend to be driven by what the logic portion of our brain signals.  Naturally, if you ask employees what they want, they’ll say cash. Does anybody make enough money?  However, what one wants vs. what actually motivates us to change are two different stories”.

The white paper emphasizes several essential elements of motivational rewards.

  • Finding rewards that are hedonic (emotional) and luxurious (desirable, but unobtainable) 
    is the ultimate combination for inspiring motivation.
  • Separating rewards from basic compensation is essential to making them promotional and motivational.
  • Creating social currency is important. Any reward that is not explicitly cash or a cash equivalent will be separated from compensation and paychecks, gives it social currency, and acts as a more flexible, strategic tool for the sponsoring company.  

“It’s undoubtedly easier to default to cash. You can use a formula, and have a cash reward for all involved.  But in reality, it’s worth the time to first educate your leadership team as to the science, and understand why tangible rewards are better served to act as a catalyst to higher performance,” Dolan explained. 

“Finding the Best Motivator – Tangible Rewards vs. Cash,” is available for download on the IESP website.

About the Incentive & Engagement Solutions Providers (IESP)
The Incentive & Engagement Solution Providers (IESP), a strategic industry group of the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA), is a trusted resource for business leaders globally in helping their organizations achieve results through engagement and incentive solutions.


Contact:  Ione Terrio ● iterrio@incentivemarketing.org ● 952-928-4699