So we went to Pink, and asked him how effective incentive events are when it comes to boosting employee motivation. Here is his reply:
If the only reason, or the main reason, somebody is selling a product or service is to get a trip, then I think the incentive distorts motivation and might even hurt the company in the long run. (I also think it shows they’ve hired the wrong person.)
What’s more, giving some people a trip can demoralize those who don’t get a trip — and make the recipients fearful of losing the trip the following year.
That said, trips per se are absolutely fine. If they’re part of teambuilding or strategizing, that’s terrific and valuable and worthwhile. That’s true, as well, if they’re offered in a noncontingent, unexpected way as an after-the-fact form of recognition.
In other words, the problem isn’t trips or meetings. They’re great. The problem is using them — or using anything — to control others’ behavior.