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