How rewards and incentive programs motivate and help enhance business performance.

Understanding the psychology behind motivating factors that drive your rewards and incentive programs performance.

Understanding the science of Motivation & Rewards

Understanding the relationship between motivation and rewards is critical to managing successful rewards and incentive programs. Simply put, rewards and incentive programs are designed to encourage individuals or teams to achieve specific goals or objectives, often by offering incentives or rewards for achieving certain milestones or outcomes.

Effect of Rewards

The research study suggests different sets of neurons fire in our brains when thinking of rewards. Furthermore, it can differ depending on the reward and the situation. The study shows how rewards cause strong emotional reactions in people – whether we’re expecting, receiving or missing out on them.

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Image Source: Understanding the Science of Motivation

What does this mean for rewards and incentive programs?

The science of motivation is a complex field that draws upon research from psychology, neuroscience, and other disciplines to understand how and why people are motivated to act in certain ways. By leveraging this knowledge, rewards and incentive programs can be designed to tap into stakeholders’ intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, driving higher levels of engagement and performance.

Making Rewards Count

As mentioned above, multiple factors play a critical role in how you feel when you think of a reward. Strategic rewards and incentive programs aims to create measurable changes and behaviours that improve your business performance. For example, if someone is already accustomed to performing a particular activity, adding rewards that enhance their performance can be a great way to provide motivation without making it feel like a chore. These types of rewards, known as “extrinsic rewards,” are external factors that can cause a strong emotional response and reinforce the desired behaviour change benefitting your brand and the participants.

Rewards to Motivate Everyone

The easiest mistake would be to have an experiential reward or elite offer to motivate your participants in the rewards and incentive programs. The rewards on offer must cater to the “rockstar” and “uninterested” participants. Alienating any group would have an adverse effect on your program. 212F’s adaption of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs explains this perfectly.

How rewards and incentive programs motivate and help enhance business performance.

When it comes to rewards against efforts, it’s important to remember that cash isn’t always king. Sure, money is nice, but when you’re looking to motivate people at the higher levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – Self-Actualization, Esteem and Love – other types of rewards can be much more effective.
The key is to find out what really matters to your participants and use that to fuel their motivation. That’s where a tiered rewards and incentive program can be a game-changer. By offering different levels of rewards based on performance, you can create a sense of achievement and progress that keeps people engaged and motivated. Start with basic rewards to get people on board, and then offer more valuable incentives as they hit their targets and climb the ladder. Not only will this drive more participation, but it can also lead to increased purchasing and better business outcomes.

Check out our article on reward options for your rewards and incentive program.

Understanding Your Customers

If you’re looking to create a successful incentive or loyalty program, one of the most important things you need to do is figure out what really motivates your customers. After all, if you don’t know what drives them, it will be challenging to create rewards that resonate. This involves gathering data and insights about their behaviours, preferences, and attitudes and considering the emotional and psychological factors that influence their decision-making. 

By taking a customer-centric approach and focusing on delivering real value and benefits, you can design a program that resonates with your audience and encourages them to engage with your brand more frequently and enthusiastically. Build a program that delivers on these key drivers, and you can create a loyal customer base that drives business success and helps you build lasting relationships with your customers.


The accumulated knowledge of your customer behaviour and program design will prove to be the success factor of your rewards and incentive program. Without this, you are merely shooting in the dark or repeating the rewards your competition has provided or the ones you already have in your catalogue. A strategic program design with rewards that motivate intrinsic as well as extrinsic behaviour will give you lasting loyalty with your stakeholder.

The First Step To Create Measurable Change In Your Business

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