The Incentive Research Foundation Releases "Using Behavioral Economics Insights in Incentives, Rewards, and Recognition: A Nudge Guide"

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The Incentive Research Foundation is pleased to release "Using Behavioral Economics Insights in Incentives, Rewards, and Recognition: A Nudge Guide," a groundbreaking analysis of how behavioral economics can be applied to the incentive, rewards, and recognition (IRR) field. Offering practical takeaways to apply immediately to IRR programs, the report highlights proven behavioral economics approaches and the powerful role emotions play in employee performance.

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Behavioral economics gets to the heart of why people make specific choices, and it can be an effective resource in designing incentive, rewards, and recognition programs that motivate employees’ best performance.

The Incentive Research Foundation is pleased to release "Using Behavioral Economics Insights in Incentives, Rewards, and Recognition: A Nudge Guide," a groundbreaking analysis of how behavioral economics can be applied to the incentive, rewards, and recognition (IRR) field. Offering practical takeaways to apply immediately to IRR programs, the report highlights proven behavioral economics approaches and the powerful role emotions play in employee performance.

“Behavioral economics gets to the heart of why people make specific choices, and it can be an effective resource in designing IRR programs that motivate employees’ best performance,” said Melissa Van Dyke, IRF President. “By understanding the role of emotion in motivation as explained in 'Using Behavioral Economics Insights in Incentives, Rewards, and Recognition: A Nudge Guide,' IRR professionals can use this knowledge of human drives to make work more satisfying, enjoyable, and rewarding.”

Behavioral economics helps the user comprehend the motivations behind people’s actions. It combines much from several disciplines including the fields of traditional economics, social psychology, and neuroscience. Because behavioral economics recognizes that 70% of human decision-making is emotional—as opposed to rational—it proves to be a useful tool in helping employers understand what actually motivates employees, why some incentives are more effective than others, and how they can strategically apply these principles to their own businesses.

"Using Behavioral Economics Insights in Incentives, Rewards, and Recognition: A Nudge Guide" demonstrates how IRR professionals can apply behavioral economics principles to the everyday design of IRR programs. Some examples detailed on the report include:

  • Incentive programs should focus on using nudges (subtle incentive tools/practices) to make the reward system user-friendly and to maximize the program’s emotional impact. Emotionally compelling rewards hit the mind harder, are remembered longer, produce quantifiably better results from employees, and influence the internal brand the most.
  • Employers need to move beyond programs that rely solely on monetary rewards. For large rewards in particular, experience-type programs involving travel tend to generate warm memories and appeal to more than two-thirds of an IRF survey’s respondents over the cash equivalents.
  • Reward a top performing team as opposed to using a system in which members of a team all compete against each other for a single reward. In today’s workplace, cooperative incentives are more effective and valuable than competitive incentives. Emotional pressures cause people to do things they don’t really want to do; but it doesn’t cause them to do those things well.
  • Implementing emotionally meaningful incentives in IRR programs has benefits that extend beyond just improving employee productivity. Eventually, high-performing employees turn into brand ambassadors who extol the company’s virtues to non-employees—including current and potential customers, vendors, and media.

To download the full study, "Using Behavioral Economics Insights in Incentives, Rewards, and Recognition: A Nudge Guide," or to download the white paper, "How to Effectively Harness Behavioral Economics to Drive Employee Performance and Engagement," please visit: http://theirf.org/research/how-to-effectively-harness-behavioral-economics-to-drive-employee-performance-and-engagement/2072/

"Using Behavioral Economics Insights in Incentives, Rewards, and Recognition: The Neuroscience" will be released May 2017.

About the IRF:
The Incentive Research Foundation (TheIRF.org) funds and promotes research to advance the science and enhance the awareness and appropriate application of motivation and incentives in business and industry globally. The goal is to increase the understanding, effective use, and resultant benefits of incentives to businesses that currently use incentives and others interested in improved performance.

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Andy Schwarz
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