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Future Reward


Explanations > Perception > Attention > Future Reward

Description | Example | Discussion | So what?



Sustain attention by always having a carrot dangling in front of them, a future reward that keeps them focused and working in the direction you desire.

Ensure the reward is something that really does motivate them. Also beware of them taking short-cuts to the reward. Find the right type of reward that keeps them motivated in the right way, for example sustaining collaboration rather than competition (if this is what you want).


A customer loyalty system has 'levels' where if your saved points go past named boundaries then you get bonus points. This is emphasized to customers in loyalty newsletters and in-store notices. The result is that customers keep coming back and do not spend their loyalty points for some time.

A team manager takes her team out for a meal when they pass project milestones. If they are on time, on budget and on quality, then they go to a really nice restaurant.

A retail store offers customers free coffee, handing out vouchers for the coffee shop next door at the till when customer spend above a certain amount. The coffee shop more than makes up for the cost of the coffee with the delicious and very profitable cakes that they sell. They also sustain the cycle by giving the customers discount vouchers that can be be used at the retail store.


Reward is, by definition, something that people desire. Offering reward causes people to seek ways of achieving it. Reward is often extrinsic and hence not without its hazards, however, and offering a reward does not always get people to behave as you want them to. Care hence needs to be take to either ensure the reward does not distract from interest in doing a good job.

The distance in the future where the reward will probably be gained is important as the more in the future the reward is placed, the more it will be discounted and hence the less it will be valued now. A good way to handle this is to offer regular small rewards with occasional larger rewards.

So what?

Ensure there are regular rewards for people you are working with that sustain their attention. Make sure these are understood and truly motivate in the right way.

See also

Extrinsic Motivation, Intrinsic Motivation, Discounting


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