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When It Comes to Rewards, The Presentation Itself Carries Large Importance

Cindy Mielke | May 8, 2018

Researchers have discovered an untapped preference in how people favor rewards and recognition, and it involves diving into the field of neuroscience, specifically the state of one’s unconscious behavior.

In a first-of-a-kind experiment, the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) commissioned a neuroscience expert to delve into earners’ preferences on receiving awards. The findings were published in a 2017 report titled, “Reward Presentation and Attraction: A Biometric Study.”

Forty-two participants of varying age, gender and profession were recruited to listen to four realistic audio segments in which they received a reward. These rewards were presented in different ways:

  • a “big show” in front of the entire company and delivered by the CEO,
  • a “little show” with their workgroup and immediate supervisor,
  • “peer-to-peer” with only the immediate workgroup doing the presentation, and
  • a private setting in which a personal note sent by the CEO accompanied the reward.

Their reactions were then biometrically measured.

Each of the four presentation scenarios rated relatively well (70 percent – 86 percent), but the subjects’ unconscious reactions showed a greater preference for a “little show” than for other forms of presentation. Importantly, when asked to rate the options consciously, the “little show” topped the choices at 86 percent.

The “peer-to-peer” presentation was significantly favored by millennials. The private setting rated consistently last in its ability to generate reaction.

The findings support a large body of research that suggests at least some form of public recognition is important to all reward earners, and it adds new evidence that smaller and more-meaningful presentations may be more effective than big companywide events for most people. All the results demonstrated a highly-individualized range of preference, suggesting that rewards and their presentation are more effective when individualized to each person’s preferences.

At GC Incentives, our approach to incentives and rewards, and the way in which they are presented, is defined by creating a memorable experience for clients and recipients, supporting corporate culture, rewarding performance, increasing sales, celebrating milestones, and more. Learn more about GC Business Solutions.