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Article by Kenneth Hein

(excerpt from an article that originally appeared in Incentive Magazine)

The first day I started here at Incentive Magazine I was told to read “The Trouble With Money” article. It proved scientifically that cash is a poor motivator. Of course, being a virgin to the industry and a cynic by nature I thought “yeah right” as I read the piece. But over the course of the past few years I’ve learned better--having seen countless cash failures.

In fact, during my first week here I couldn’t help but notice my first example. I was reading about the contract negotiations for a movie. When Paramount executives were courting Tom Cruise for a film, they didn’t throw extra cash at him to close the deal, they threw in a fully loaded Mercedes. Why? Because he didn’t need money---he needed a trophy.

Just like a couple of extra zeros in a bank account won’t be as memorable as a shiny Mercedes in the driveway, a cash bonus has a minimal impact on regular working stiffs like you and me. This concept was driven home to me when the Incentive staff received an award for winning its fourth consecutive Folio Award. We were each given an airline ticket to anywhere in the Continental U.S. and $400 spending money, Before writing this piece, I took a survey as to what everyone did with the $400. The answer was the same from everyone: “I have no idea.” Was it spent on the electric bill, the butcher’s bill or a night out at a bar? Probably all of the above. The point is no one spent the cash on anything of worth, leaving little to remember our accomplishment by.

While most incentive participants aren’t commanding the mega-bucks of a movie star, many are financially sound. Three months after winning a cash award they likely will not remember it. However, a travel award or a home entertainment system would certainly ring a few bells for a long time.  

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