Author: Holly Mills, Head of Incentives, Penguins
7 Jun 2019
For decades, employers motivated and rewarded their employees with cash incentives. More recently, however, there has been a significant shift in the perception of financial rewards, with many believing that money is no longer the most effective method of incentivising staff. A 2018 report conducted by Expedia and the Centre for Generational Kinetics, for example, found that 74 percent of Americans prioritise the value of experiences over products.
What’s more, a number of psychological studies have suggested that the use of money as a reward can actually hinder an individual’s performance by cognitively distracting them. In high-pressure situations – or ones in which there is perceived to be a lot at risk – individuals can panic, making decisions they wouldn’t normally opt for. This often produces negative results for both the individual and the company.
Cash is no longer king
With the cost of daily activities on the rise, the impact of financial rewards has steadily dwindled. Put simply, cash bonuses are now seen as an additional income that subsidises everyday expenses, rather than a reward to be spent on something special.
Cash bonuses are now seen as an additional income that subsidises everyday expenses, rather than a reward
Further, the tangible assets that can be procured with money are often not as fulfilling or as emotive as experiences, which deliver long-lasting value and provide something more meaningful than a new gadget ever could. As a result, experiential events have taken greater precedence in employee rewards packages.
This trend is also reflective of a shift in workplace dynamics, with Forbes revealing that 88 percent of Millennials prefer a collaborative working environment to a competitive one. As more Millennials have entered the workplace, group incentives have been cast into the spotlight as an effective tool for business leaders to improve team productivity.
At Penguins, we believe incentive travel can deliver a number of key benefits to organisations, and we seek to ensure our clients always make the most of experiential events.
The little things in life
As an incentive travel provider, the first thing we consider when advising clients is how we can create once-in-a-lifetime experiences. These unique moments can range from the simple (like the mode of transport or choice of hotel) to the extravagant (such as hiring out a top tourist attraction, employing a guest speaker or something different entirely).
Throughout an incentive trip, delegates are treated to amazing food, luxurious accommodation and incredible activities. Yet, it’s often the little things that have the greatest impact: running a hot bath, providing a small gift or simply remembering someone’s favourite pre-dinner drink may be enough to leave a big impression. After all, luxury doesn’t necessarily mean grand gestures; it can also come from a small, unexpected action.
Building relationships is also a vital part of any group trip. Recent research conducted by French hospitality company Sodexo found that almost one in five employees (17 percent) would like to share experiences with their colleagues. Teams often work within silos that can stifle effective communication and fuel misunderstanding; incentive travel helps to break down these barriers, presenting employees with an opportunity to create relationships beyond their immediate teams.
In order to get the greatest value from incentive travel, though, it’s important to ensure senior company leaders are in attendance, as this acknowledgement of the team can help lift morale. The attendance of management on such trips can also help to humanise leaders, breaking down barriers and fostering empathy between the ranks.
Times are changing and employers are increasingly turning to experiential rewards to boost productivity and engagement. At Penguins, we believe group travel stands out as the pinnacle of employee incentives programmes, providing flexibility and a multitude of benefits that can add value far beyond the work environment.