Jonathan Isaac Robison PhD, MS

Punished By Rewards: Re-Thinking The Use Of Incentives at the Workplace

From water bottles to t-shirts, to monetary prizes, to group competitions and risk-rated insurance – incentives, or extrinsic rewards, have become a mainstay of traditional employee health promotion approaches. Many organizations spend considerable time and energy and significant portions of their tight wellness budgets on incentives. Incentives have also been used for decades to increase employee productivity and engagement. Perhaps surprisingly, there is limited evidence that extrinsic rewards are effective for achieving any of these outcomes. Furthermore, there is research to suggest that their use may have unwanted, adverse consequences. This presentation will review the problems associated with the use of extrinsic rewards to motivate people to change. Implications for the workplace will be discussed and examples of alternative approaches for helping employees to be more productive, more engaged, happier and healthier will be introduced.


Jonathan Robison, Ph.D., MS
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Michigan State University,
Adjunct Associate Professor, Western Michigan University
Phone:  (517) 507-0287
Fax: (517) 507-0265
e-mail: robisonj@msu.edu

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