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Do Trophies Make Good Incentives?

Do Trophies Make Good Incentives?

Companies are always searching for effective and fiscally responsible ways to motivate their employees and boost productivity.  Many companies engagement, motivations, incentives commonly develop incentive programs, which can vary in their complexity and rewards.  One way they keep incentives simple is to award outstanding employees with corporate awards such as trophies.  Curiously, using trophies as an incentive and reward might be highly effective, with a higher success rate in boosting motivation and productivity than monetary or other similar types of rewards.

There are many reasons trophies remain a go-to staple reward for employees.  Two of those reasons:

One, they’re fairly simple and trophies exist for every conceivable category.  All it takes is a simple search for the right trophy, entering the appropriate information (such as the employee’s name, title, and achievement), and done!  It can become a bit exhausting to find just the right trophy, but when you have an employee or team who deserve it, it’s worth taking that time to find something they’ll truly appreciate and actually want to display.

Two, our society is very reward-driven.  Some might criticize it as overly reward-driven and in some cases, this tends to be the case.  We have that yearly “award season” when Hollywood and the film industry at large praises itself with a variety of golden statuettes.  Kids regularly bring home a medal or trophy for every little thing.  It’s being hammered into our heads and it can easily get out of hand.  However, in a business environment, when used appropriately—that is, not overused—they can function as motivational tools, as previously mentioned.  When employees know their work is appreciated and may be rewarded, the act of being “officially” recognized for it can have a remarkably powerful effect.

It’s this recognition that makes trophies good incentives.  They’re something that can be shown off, displayed, and more importantly, collected.  It’s tied to human nature and some might call it an intrinsic part of our nature.  People absolutely love to both collect and show off those collections.  Trophies, in all their forms, are a very basic extension of that.

What about other types of incentives, such as money?  Oddly enough, cash and gift cards and certificates are not as effective as fostering motivation.  One of the biggest reasons is the diminishing aspect of cash as well as it’s impersonality. It’s a short-term reward, likely to be used up relatively quickly.  What that money is spent on can also contribute to the recipient’s overall feeling toward the reward.  If the cash is spent on something rudimentary and dull, such as bills, that employee’s excitement will likely be minimal (if at all existent) and it will reflect in future motivation and productivity. Even if the monetary reward is used on something enjoyed by the recipient, the reward essentially becomes “used up.”  It’s simply too short term.

A trophy is long term.  The achievement is essentially immortalized in the material it’s inscribed upon and in our reward-centric culture, they’re always welcome by the recipient.  It’s just more personal. So, to answer the biggest question, yes, trophies do make good incentives.

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Dennis Phoenix

Dennis Phoenix is a human resource specialist and writer. He writes on topics including business relationships, productivity, employee satisfaction, and He spends his weekends mountain biking and photographing nature.

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