The main differences between an incentive and a reward programme

The challenge of any HR, Sales or Marketing department is how to motivate their employees or sales partners better. In order to reach the business objectives (faster) and to achieve the strategic company goals, which will help realise their long term vision and mission. Business objectives could be to increase customer loyalty, grow turnover, rise customer share of wallet, …

So which type of motivational programme should you use to help achieve these company goals? Here are some main differences between an incentive and a reward programme which you have to take into account:


  1. Past or future?
    Besides a strong internal communication strategy, companies can reinforce this challenge with an incentive or reward programme. An incentive programme will help them achieve a future goal such as 95% customer satisfaction if they now are at 90%. A reward programme gives employees or partners an appreciation when a goal or a unique performance or event has been met.
  2. Points or non-points based?
    An match pointincentive programme is points based and a reward programme is non-points based. In the first case input on targets or KPI’s is required. Either input on KPI’s is being uploaded into an incentive platform (file or automated database connections) or the employee/sales partner fills in their own results in an online (preferably) standardised form. Targets always need to be quantifiable (e.g. customer satisfaction %, speed of picking up a customer call, the response rate on offers, …) and in line with the goals an employee or sales partner needs to achieve within his department or subsidiary. Logically sales driven employees or partners will have more sales related targets than e.g. somebody from accounting.
    A reward programme is less complex and has a shorter duration period (e.g. end-of-yeargift, quality label earned, years of service, …).  It doesn’t need a regular update of results and can also be organized quite fast. Mostly people only log in once into an incentive platform, choose an incentive and log out again.
  3. Cash or non-cash?Wolf-of-Wallstreet-585x370
    The advantage of both type of programmes is that the motivational and psychological effect lasts longer than purely rewarding with cash. Once people receive money on their bank account, they mostly have already forgotten about it.

My experience is that Sales and Marketing Directors use incentive programmes more than HR directors. For the latter we mostly role out Reward programmes due to the simplicity of them and the easy link with important milestones that a person has achieved.

More info?

Check out the ‘How to set up a successful incentive programme?‘ presentation to help reach business objectives better and faster with hands-on tips and tricks on:

  • improving performance
  • motivational models
  • incentive programme design models
  • successful steps and key challenges
  • incentive programme possibilities.

About SwingGroup

I&MWinnerSwingGroup is a Benelux-based incentive marketing agency that specialises in B2B and B2B2C incentive and loyalty programs.  Its clients include BMW, Coca-Cola, Electrolux, GE, Insites, KBC, Philips, Q8, Samsung, Solucious, Tech Data, Thomas Cook, Truvo, USG, Unilever, Unilin, Vaillant, and others. It offers a comprehensive solution from set-up of an incentive platform, to supporting integrated communication, to fulfilment of the incentives (more than 300,000 gifts and 300 gift vouchers available in real time). The Motisha incentive management and reward platform, which was developed in-house, is the heart of business.

Contact information

Everaert Gunther – Managing Director – – Tel: +32 50 50 24 64
Twitter: @swinggroup – @swinggift – @gunar2


The three key drivers for a successful incentive campaign: part 1

How do you successfully roll out an incentive campaign to encourage someone to do something? What are the key elements that will maximize your incentive efforts and give you a greater return on your investments? In three articles I will guide you through the necessary action points and skills required to help you achieve your incentive campaign goal(s). In this article we start with the first key driver: ‘Inspiration’.

No goal, no glory

A Goal Without a Plan is just a dreamImagine what it would be like if the things you really love doing were that bit more difficult to achieve. Would you be willing to make that extra effort in order to carry on doing them? Maybe you love reading books from the library, but suppose you had to invite two friends before you could borrow a new book. Or you love watching your favorite football club every fortnight, but suppose you had to buy an item of club merchandise, like a cap, before entering the stadium, would you still go?

What’s in it for me?

I bet you would. Why do I believe so? Because of two factors: first of all you are already intrinsically motivated. Meaning you already love doing these things and getting something back, which gives you great personal satisfaction, each time. Secondly, you are extrinsically motivated with the incentive of achieving a double goal. You not only reinforce the community network with your own passion, creating more like-minded people to share experiences with,  but by doing so you also strengthen the brand itself, by actively promoting it either directly (your friends) or indirectly (your brand identity markers).  It’s obvious what’s in it for you!

Target right, future’s bright

So how do I put this in action in my own incentive campaign, you might wonder? Well, two things need to be addressed before you start rolling out a successful incentive campaign. First of all you need to clearly define your strategic business goals. Are you attracting new customers, like the library, or stimulating cross-selling, like the football club? Or do you need to attract new talent, improve your customer service or strengthen your sales channels? Once you know which goals you want to achieve, all that remains is to identify which internal or external target groups will help you achieve them. In other words, which audiences are already intrinsically motivated but are willing to achieve more with a little positive stimulation. If you are the library you might not only want to target existing members, but also school pupils. If you are the football club you might want to reach out to the on and offline fan clubs.

But two very important elements should be kept in mind. If you aren’t able to clearly define your goals or can’t define your target groups then it’s not worth going to the effort of setting up an incentive campaign. It’s not only a waste of your time and money, but it will also destroy your company brand. Secondly, you need to set up goals that are challenging yet achievable. Bringing ten friends every time you go to the library or buying your football club’s complete kit every time you go to a match, could have the reverse effect.

Inspirational goal setting

And now comes the interesting part. Once you’ve fixed your company goals, have tracked down the right target audience and know what it responds to, all that remains is to inspire them. How? Easy – create an inspirational concept that shows them their benefits in a crystal-clear way; bringing their world even closer to them. Now reinforce this message with a strong incentive, integrated in your corporate culture, and you’re onto a winner. Imagine being addressed like this: ‘Bring along two friends and the extra membership funding will mean you’ll be top of the list to read the latest books first.’ or ‘ If you buy club merchandising at five consecutive home matches you’ll receive a free upgrade on next year’s season ticket as a way of thanking you for spreading the club spirit.’

With rewards like that, who wouldn’t be interested in going the extra mile?

In the next article you’ll learn how to get this message across and how to start ‘engaging’ your target audience in this challenging journey.

Inspirational greetings,

Gunther Everaert
Managing Director of SwingGroup
IMA Europe Board Member –

Gunther EveraertGunther Everaert is the Managing Director and Founder of SwingGroup, the incentive marketing market leader in Benelux. He has strategically advised and developed integrated incentive marketing solutions for Fortune 500 clients such as BMW, Coca-Cola, GE, Philips and Unilever.  He has spoken at trendsetting conferences such as Digital Marketing First and HRM Masterclass e-recruitment, given interviews on Belgian national radio and is a regular guest lecturer at Ghent university.

The future of employee incentives

In times of crisis firms strive to make optimal use of their resources, without running the risk of demotivating employees or, worse still, losing them. Which trends will firms continue to offer a competitive advantage in these turbulent times?

No-one wants to be just like all the others

Alongside the trend of providing staff members with a customised extra-legal package, as far as employee incentives are concerned people are increasingly on the lookout for personalised incentives. This is why more and more firms are choosing to abandon the uniformity incentive, where the difference between the psychological value (often the retail price) and the purchase value (dependent on the purchased volume) fails to counterbalance the potentially demotivating effect for the employee. Are you sure that you as a firm are not also giving out the message that you see all your employees as one and the same?

A single supplier offers insufficient options

In order to minimise this effect while nonetheless bringing in sufficient yield, firms often allow employees to select from a range provided by one single supplier, which could be via a webshop for more rapid interaction. At first glance this seems a good idea. But all too often the firm is bound to the partner’s suppliers, meaning the range is more limited and the employees often can’t choose from the latest models or product versions. After all, the partner has often purchased (large) volumes to maximise both its margin and that of the client. Correct economic short term logic, but is this really wise in the long-term? And what would be a better alternative? The answer is simple.

Customised motivation via a dynamic incentive marketplace

Let employees in a dynamic incentive marketplace choose from a varied range of incentives from different suppliers and this upon every occasion, whether it be staff benefits (marriage, birth, length of service, end of year, retirement) or incentive programmes for employees (sales incentives, quality improvement, idea management). All of this tailor-made to both the employee and the firm and accessible 7 days a week via computer, smartphone or tablet. Work where possible with digital incentives such as digital vouchers, online reservations, e-tickets or virtual prepaid gift cards. This real time remuneration increases not just the employee experience, but also lowers the costs of shipment and internal follow-up, important factors to take into consideration for the firm.

Bind employees to your firm more strongly

Firms which demonstrate their appreciation of their employees via a real time incentive platform with a personalised range, while keeping the costs well under control, build up a unique advantage as regards employer branding and retention management. This is the way in which we at SwingGroup, Benelux, leader in incentive marketing for 8 years now, are providing a helping hand and which increasing numbers of firms with the challenges of tomorrow are signing up to.

How can we help you strategically anchor the talent in your organisation?

Inspirational greetings

Gunther Everaert
Managing Director
SwingGroup –

Gunther EveraertGunther Everaert is the Managing Director and Founder of SwingGroup, the incentive marketing market leader in Benelux. He has strategically advised and developed integrated incentive marketing solutions for Fortune 500 clients such as BMW, Coca-Cola, GE, Philips and Unilever.  He has spoken at trendsetting conferences such as Digital Marketing First and HRM Masterclass e-recruitment, given interviews on Belgian national radio and is a regular guest lecturer at Ghent university.

De toekomst van employee incentives

In tijden van crisis zoeken bedrijven hun middelen optimaal in te zetten, zonder het risico te lopen de medewerkers te demotiveren of erger nog te verliezen. Welke trends zullen bedrijven in deze woelige tijden een competitief voordeel blijven bieden?

Niemand is graag eenheidsworst

Naast de trend om personeelsleden een extralegaal pakket op maat aan te reiken, is men op het vlak van employee incentives meer en meer op zoek naar gepersonaliseerde incentives. Hierbij stapt het bedrijf vaker af van de eenheidsworstincentive, waarbij de win tussen de psychologische waarde (vaak de winkelprijs) en de aankoopwaarde (afhankelijk van het ingekochte volume) niet opweegt tegen het potentieel demotiverend effect bij de medewerker. Geef je als bedrijf immers zo niet het signaal dat je je medewerkers ook als eenheidsworst ziet?

Eén leverancier biedt onvoldoende keuzemogelijkheden

Om dit effect te minimaliseren maar toch nog voldoende win te halen, laten bedrijven medewerkers vaak uit een select aanbod kiezen bij één leverancier. Al dan niet via een webshop voor een vlotte interactie. Op het eerste zicht een goed idee. Maar al te vaak is het bedrijf gebonden aan de leveranciers van de partner, waardoor het aanbod beperkter is en de medewerkers vaak niet uit de laatste modellen of productversies kunnen kiezen. De partner heeft immers vaak (grote) volumes ingekocht om zowel zijn eigen marge als die voor de klant te maximaliseren. Terechte economische kortetermijnlogica, maar is dit wel verstandig op langere termijn? En wat is dan een beter alternatief? Het antwoord is eenvoudig.

Motivatie op maat via een dynamische incentive marktplaats

Laat medewerkers op een dynamische incentivemarktplaats kiezen uit een gevarieerd aanbod aan incentives van verschillende leveranciers en dit voor elke gelegenheid zoals personeelsbeloningen (huwelijk, geboorte, anciënniteit, eindejaar, pensionering) of incentiveprogramma’s voor medewerkers (verkoopincentives, kwaliteitsverbetering, idee management). Dit alles op maat van zowel de medewerker als het bedrijf en 7 op 7 toegankelijk via computer, smartphone of tablet. En werk hierbij indien mogelijk met digitale incentives zoals digibonnen, online reservaties, e-tickets of virtuele prepaid giftcards. Deze realtimebeloning verhoogt zo niet alleen de employee experience, maar verlaagt ook de kosten van verzending en interne opvolging voor het bedrijf gevoelig.

Medewerkers sterker aan uw bedrijf binden

Bedrijven die via een incentiveplatform in real time met een persoonlijk aanbod, waarvan de kosten goed onder controle blijven, hun waardering tonen voor de medewerkers bouwen qua employer branding en retentiemanagement een uniek voordeel op. Dit is de weg waar we bij SwingGroup als Benelux-leider in incentivemarketing al 8 jaar aan helpen timmeren en waar bedrijven met de uitdagingen van morgen meer en meer op intekenen.

Hoe kunnen we u helpen het talent in uw organisatie strategisch te verankeren?

Gunther Everaert
Managing Director