by Roy Saunderson, MA CRP | May 15, 2019

When using nominal reward amounts to incentivize employees, the typical options available to organizations are cash, points and gift cards. Researchers have conducted many studies on the benefits of cash versus nonmonetary rewards -- but what about points-based rewards? Further research by Dr. Patricia A. Norberg from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn., provides insights on which I've based the following list of the top 10 ways in which points-based incentives provide meaningful motivation.

1. People think about points more often. Individuals who striving for reward points tend to think about how they plan to use them more than those working toward cash or gift cards.

2. They'll even talk about their points more. Think about personal loyalty points you've collected. Employees who receive reward points talk about them more often than employees who get cash or gift cards.

3. Point recipients report higher satisfaction levels. Employees who receive reward points report significantly higher levels of satisfaction with their reward than those who got cash or gift cards.

4. People receiving points remember how they used them. Employees receiving reward points were significantly better at remembering what they used their reward points for than those recipients receiving cash or gift cards.

5. There's a higher perceived trophy status with points. Employees perceive points at a higher currency-ratio value than associated with cash rewards, making them more meaningful to employees to hold up with pride.

6. Points get redeemed for more meaningful gifts. Studies show that cash gets used for more utilitarian and practical items such as bills and household necessities. Points get used for meaningful gift items that employees talk about.

7. Using point-based rewards encourages greater engagement. Employees receiving point rewards engage more with company reward sites than those reciving cash, which appears on pay statements, or gift cards they have to top up to use.

8. There's greater potential of emotional appeal with points. Point-based rewards have greater emotional appeal to employees than cash. Emotional draw creates intrinsic connection for the employee with their company.

9. Points generate greater social-emotional impact. If you want a rewards program to create better word-of-mouth promotion across employees and higher levels of employee satisfaction, then points-based rewards appears to fit the bill.

10. Nominal points-based reward programs work. By all accounts, points-based reward programs offer an all-around memorable, meaningful and motivational option to consider in your reward program planning.

Incentive columnist Roy Saunderson is the author of Giving the Real Recognition Way. The Vistance Institute chief learning officer at Rideau Inc., Saunderson provides consulting, learning and thought-leadership services focused on helping leaders and managers give real recognition the right way. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter and at his AuthenticRecognition.com blog.