My wife and I were talking about incentives used in business the other day, and a healthy discussion arose around how far we go in creating or providing incentives that people really want. Here’s what insipred the discussion:
A few years ago, a person that Linda works with earned an incentive prize for her efforts in a particular area. The reward was an item that most people would want, yet the recipient refused it and said, “here’s what I’d really like…” Linda reminds me that I told her that an incentive is only valuable if someone wants it, and that if the recipient was telling her she wanted, we should provide that.
(The side note here is that the above behavior can also be deemed as manipulative, so we have to watch out for that, too.)
Here’s where I go back and forth, and would love to get your perspectives. I still truly believe that incentives need to be meaningful, but how far do we go? I know it’s probably a little pie-in-the-sky to think that everyone is going to be appreciative that they got something, and recoginze the fact that they were rewarded for their efforts. This brings to mind the topic of meaningful recognition in general, but that’s another post for another time.
So the question I pose to all of you is: How far do you go to create incentives that you think people will want? What are the pros and cons?
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