“Everybody needs money. That’s why they call it money,” said Danny DeVito’s character in the 2001 movie, Heist
. Indeed, given a choice between cash and other potential rewards for a job well done, most people explicitly choose the money, but that might not be what they really want.
It’s a fascinating topic that Charlotte Blank, executive director of The Maritz Institute, will explore at the 2017 RPI Conference. Blank’s presentation is entitled “Cash, Travel, and Neuroscience: Biometric science reveals new insights in motivation and rewards.” It’s truly a groundbreaking look at how humans react when faced with a choice of cash or non-cash rewards.
In the past, designing rewards and incentives has relied heavily on things like surveys, interviews and focus groups to try to determine which kind of rewards people would prefer. At the same time, the advertising industry has been using more advanced techniques to study reactions in the human body to determine preferences.
For the first time, Blank and her colleagues have employed neuro-scientific and biometric techniques to understand the influence of the subconscious in reward preference. In 2016, The Maritz Institute and the IRF commissioned a study in which more than 40 professionals underwent biometric testing, including facial expression analysis, eye movement and heart rate monitoring, pupil dilation and Galvanic Skin Response (GSR).
Subjects were immersed in realistic scenarios and presented a range of cash and non-cash rewards. Their intuitive reactions and ultimate choice of rewards might alter much of what you thought you knew about reward preference.
“When you give people the option, they deliberately select cash, but we have found that people perform better and work harder for non-cash rewards,” Blank said. “People get more emotionally excited by non-cash rewards.”
How do we know that? Via the use of biometrics, which measure how much a subject’s pupils dilate when they’re show various items; a sign of excitement and interest. Blank covers a full range of findings in her presentation, but among them is the idea that people choose experiences more quickly that they choose cash. The time to make a choice with a cash reward is increased, suggesting that perhaps people spend more time considering what they would do with the money if they were given a cash reward for their efforts.
“There’s much more that we can measure, and more results we can explore,” Blank said. “But this is a fascinating first glimpse at how biometrics can help us better understand the world of effective employee recognition.”
For more information about Blank’s presentation, please visit the 2017 annual conference page.