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Feature Story

February 2018

Experiment Assesses People's Preference for Rewards

Recent Inspiration for Motivation Feature Stories

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IRF Examines Reward Presentation & Attraction - December 2017

Industry Pros Discuss Current, Future Challenges to Corporate Gift & Recognition Market - November 2017

Meetings & Events Forecast Shows Increased Confidence in 2018 - October 2017

Research Shows Technology Is Transforming How Companies, Employees Interact - September 2017

Growing Incentive Gift Card Market Provides Opportunities - August 2017

Survey: Performance & Service Awards Most Popular Forms of Recognition - July 2017

Survey: Employee Recognition Widespread - June 2017

Study: Financial Services Industry Needs to Focus on Engagement - May 2017

IRF Research Looks at Wellness in Meetings & Incentive Travel - April 2017

Few Global Companies Prepared to Build Organization of the Future - March 2017

What Are the Top Trends for Incentive Rewards, Recognition & Travel in 2017? - February 2017

Burnout: Study Reveals Big Workforce Challenge in 2017 - January 2017

Survey Looks at Holiday Gift Practices - December 2016

Culture & Communication Are Critical for Sales Compensation Policies - November 2016

Despite Tech Revolution, Younger Workers Want In-Person Collaboration - October 2016

Report: Small Biz Uses Merchandise to Motivate - September 2016

Workers Want Insight on How They Affect Bottom Line - August 2016

Incentives Market Reaches $90 Billion Annually - July 2016

Report Reveals Proven Ways to Create a More Human Workplace - June 2016

Employers Falling Short in Recognizing Millennials - May 2016

SHRM Survey: Employee Job Satisfaction Hits 10-Year High - April 2016

Which Generation Is Most Engaged? Survey Says: Gen X - March 2016

IRF Spotlights Top Motivation Trends for 2016 - February 2016

A first-of-its-kind experiment by the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) revealed how people prefer to receive recognition and rewards. In December the IRF released "Reward Presentation and Attraction: A Biometric Experiment," a second report that details the findings from the IRF's first-of-a-kind biometric experiment that examines how people prefer to receive recognition and rewards.

The study took a look at different drivers of award presentation preferences and suggested ways of determining effective approaches to make the presentation have an impact on the recipient.

In the fall of 2016, the IRF commissioned Flying Horse Communications and its chief scientist, neuroscience expert Dr. Steven Genco, to conduct the experiment in the field of rewards and recognition. The experiment used biometric techniques that were borrowed from the science of neuromarketing.

"This study provides new and deeper insight into reward-earner performance, at both the conscious and unconscious levels, in the presentation of rewards and recognition," stated Melissa Van Dyke, president of the IRF. "Some people prefer a great deal of pomp and ceremony when they are recognized, while others prefer just a verbal or written note of appreciation along with the reward that accompanies it. Ultimately, our results demonstrate a highly-individualized range of preference."

Each of the 42 subjects in the experiment listened to a series of four reward presentation scenarios. They were: Big Show (in front of the entire company and delivered by the CEO]) Little Show (involving their work group and presented by the immediate manager); Peer-to-Peer (immediate co-workers presented the reward with only the work group in attendance); and Private (a private, personal note was sent by the CEO accompanying the reward).

For example, responses were assessed using two biometric techniques. The Behavioral Approach System (BAS) measured "appetitive motives," while Behavioral Inhibition System (BIS) measured avoidance. BIS/BAS measures a person's unconscious preference for different kinds of experiences.

The experiment supported research that suggests that at least some form of public recognition is important to all reward earners. In addition, it showed that smaller presentations might be more effective and meaningful than big, company-wide events for most people.

Some key findings include:

  • Subjects' unconscious reactions and conscious choice indicated a greater preference for a "Little Show."
  • The "Private" presentation rated consistently last in its ability to "arouse" the interests of the subjects.
  • In their attraction to the "Big Show," "Little Show" and "Peer-to-Peer" presentations, men were evenly split.
  • Women were attracted more to "Peer-to-Peer" presentations, both in their explicit conscious ratings and unconsciously assessed as by pupil dilation.
  • Sales people were less attracted to the "Big Show" than non-sales people.
  • Millennials appeared significantly more drawn to "Peer-to-Peer" presentations than other options.