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Running for Noncash Incentives

November 20, 2009

[tweetmeme]What does running have to do with the incentives industry? Directly…not much, if anything. However, my “pre-professional life” was consumed by competitive distance running for my school. Reflecting on that time of my life made me realize that I actually learned a lot through those experiences about performance motivation via noncash rewards.

Why did I run? Because I enjoyed doing it right? That was true…to a point.

Why do you do what you do for a living? Obviously because you enjoy it right? See where I’m going with this?

I did start running for the simple fact that I enjoyed it. Plain and simple. Going on a long run was (and still is) a great way to get some exercise and clear my mind. However, I wasn’t a purely recreational runner. I competed for a team in high school and college, which required more than “running for fun.” There was a huge time dedication and work factor that went along with being successful on a team. This included having to take time my friends used sleeping in, eating junk food, and hanging out on lazy summer afternoons for training. I enjoyed it but it still took a lot of determination and incentive for me to get out of bed and repeat all that hard work day in and day out for ten straight years.

Most of you have (ideally anyhow) chosen your job field initially because it was something you had a genuine interest in and enjoyed doing. No matter what field you are in, it’s something you feel some sort of satisfaction being part of. Along with having a job role you like comes the extra work and time dedication to become successful. Over a long period of time, it becomes easy to lose that intial spark and drive it takes to continue successful job performance.  This happens to just about everyone. It takes a special type of motivation (outside of just paying the bills) to avoid becoming complacent and continue to strive to do your best day in and day out over a long period of time.

So what is the best way to motivate employees to overcome complacency? Extra cash bonuses right? Not necessarily. If given the option, most would choose cash over any sort of tangible reward. However, what we want isn’t necessarily what we work harder for. The following post will show a personal real life example on how effective noncash rewards can be.

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