Editor's Desk - September/October 2012

Time to Get Motivated

What works best to get people motivated to engage in or change a behavior? Does the threat of bad things to come work? Or is the stick counterproductive? Are incentives and rewards the answer?

I was thinking about these questions over coffee the other morning, and my thoughts turned to a good friend who suffered—and recovered from—a heart attack a few years ago. He described his experience in detail—the pain of the attack itself, the pain of recovery, the extreme hard work involved in changing his lifestyle for the better.

Initially, he said, he was easily kept on track just by thinking back to the pain. He didn't want to hurt again—and he certainly didn't want to die—so he kept himself eating right, taking the right medicines and doing his daily exercises. But after a while, the memory of the pain wasn't enough. He started to slip back into his bad old habits.

So, how is it that he's still healthy? He switched his strategy. Once the threat of bad things to come stopped working, he realized he was going to have to try something different. And that's when he started playing little games with himself—offering small rewards for each step accomplished. His old diet of fried and fast foods was a big no-no. So, every week he got through without hitting the drive-through, he put that money into a vacation jar. Every week that he stuck to his workout plan, a little more money went in. Eventually, he bought himself a trip to the tropics—and as a bonus, he said he enjoyed it even more as an active, healthier person than he would have before his heart attack, when his poor habits made him more tired and less motivated to get out and have fun.

I think a similar story can be told about the American workforce—and your employees and other program participants who need a little motivation.

A few years ago, the Great Recession was in full swing, and the situation was dire from just about any angle. Thousands of people were losing their jobs. And thousands more were asked to pick up the slack of the reduced workforce. They were asked to do the jobs of two or three people. They were asked to do more with less. And many, concerned about their own livelihood—worried about that looming stick—did what they needed to do to hold onto what they had and to get the job done.

But now the pain of the recession is starting to recede. The picture is still not rosy, and many people are still experiencing the pain, but for the most part, things are starting to get better. And because of that, the stick just isn't going to cut it anymore.

Now, more than ever, is the time to start focusing on a system of incentives and rewards to keep employees engaged—and to build their engagement and motivation even further. If you want to keep your business growing and succeeding, you need everyone on board. You need everyone to be devoted to the cause. You need everyone to build on your current success to create even greater momentum going forward.

So, how do you make it work for your organization? How do you engage and motivate your workforce? Your sales force? Your customers and channel partners?

If you're looking for answers, you can do no better than to check out the Motivation Show's lineup of educational sessions and exhibits. At this event, taking place Oct. 23 to 25 in Chicago at McCormick Place West, you'll be able to talk to and learn from some of the brightest minds in the industry. These people know their carrots, and they'll be glad to get you rolling on a program that will inspire and reward your people. You'll also learn about the latest industry trends and all the exciting new options for awards and incentives.

And, if you can't attend this year, be sure to check out this issue of Premium Incentive Products in detail. Every issue, we aim to bring much of the same kind of learning and information you'll find at the show to our pages, to motivate and inspire you to motivate and inspire the people whose performance you rely on to build your organization's performance over time.

Hope to see you in Chicago!


Emily Tipping
Editorial Director,


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