Working in the world of incentive management I am consistently posed the question about the prize. Should we incent with cash? Is it better to give trophies, non-cash rewards, and/or gift cards? The answer may be equal parts neither and/or all of the above. The pot of the gold at the end of the rainbow is far less important than everyone makes it out to be.
Money doesn't matter!
Test: if I were to put a hundred dollar bill, a gift card, and an i-pod on a table and asked you to choose: you would probably take the cash. What purpose would it serve? You might grab a meal, pick up your dry cleaning, and fill half of your gas tank. Tomorrow, with empty wallet, would you remember what you had done with your reward (or how you had earned it)? Our cash bonuses go to our kid's schools, we might buy some flowers for our sweetie, maybe we'll pick up a nice bottle of wine. As we advance through life the money in the bank becomes less about us and more about the ones we love. We are keeping up with the Joneses, maintaining, doing what we must to make ends meet. A necessity but hardly an inspiring tale of self-fulfillment.
I know not of a person who checked their bank statement on their death bed. No one ever looked back on a life well-served and wished they had put in more hours at the office. Ask any CEO what he/she would have done different and they would allude to having had spent more time with their now-grown-up kids. Money doesn't matter!
If a man is shown the exit to a company he had served loyally for 30 years, he might question his priorities. Those looking out only for themselves might find it hard to find employment after changing jobs each year. You don't need to look over your shoulder if you are doing the right thing. The right thing is to do that which you genuinely believe in. More than the prize at the finish line, we want to enjoy the race.
On your death bed you might look down at that watch on your wrist and remember the 30 years you put into building something that you believed in. You are more likely to look over at your children and feel good about the legacy you have built.
Time is the most important prize any of us can be given. You have 29,200 days on this earth. How are you spending your most precious prize?
Don't Forget to Remember!