If you want to reward someone in a non-impactful way, write a check. If you want to make them feel uniquely valued and eager to do it all over again…reward them with something that speaks to their interest or passion.”
– Richard Rosenblatt, CEO, Demand Media
Non-cash incentives – travel in particular – can be a true win-win for companies and employees. The staffer who spends a week on the beach on the company's dime will tell her friends about her awesome job for a long time to come. And those positive vibes are sure to carry over into the workday. The company enjoys the benefit of increased employee loyalty at a comparatively low cost: Incentive studies have found that non-cash incentives and rewards are two to three times more effective than cash at improving employee performance. “Employees think more frequently about these awards – even when they are equal value to cash, and the increased interest leads to higher performance,” says the Incentive Research Foundation. Sales recruiter Jamar Cobb-Dennard found travel incentives to be especially motivating early in his career. Here’s his story. I worked for Vector Marketing/CUTCO Cutlery while in college and shortly after. In addition to being a fantastic professional training ground, their compensation and perks were unbelievable. As a student, they sent me to high-profile locations across the country (Hollywood, New York City, Chicago, etc.) for conferences, and to exotic locations for sales awards. The best was San Juan, Puerto Rico. To go on the trips, I had to sell $40,000 a year (the No. 1 rep in the nation sold $150k). Selling $40k put me in the top 10 percent of salespeople. Definitely achievable, but it was HARD work. On top of the incentives, I regularly made almost $30,000 per year as a full-time student working part-time . My manager in Chicago was one of the biggest mentors of my 20’s. He challenged me to think bigger, rewarded me when I did well, and helped me believe in myself. I loved going to work every day, mainly because I knew that I received what I put into the job, and I enjoyed the competitive environment.
Incentive Travel Pays Off
Travel is one of the non-cash incentives that employees value most, and it has financial benefits too. According to a study by Oxford Economics USA on the ROI of business travel:
- Executives stated that to achieve the same effect of incentive travel, an employee’s total base compensation would need to be increased by 8.5%.
- Incentive travel investments yield an ROI of more than 4:1.
- Almost 80% of executives surveyed said incentive travel has a significant impact on employee morale and job satisfaction.