When it comes to the power of non-cash rewards, our partners in crime over in Shine have learnt a heck of a lot over the past few decades as to what really drives engagement.

Whether the aim of your rewards and incentives programme is to influence purchase decisions, boost performance of your workforce or encourage higher attendance, with options such as cinema tickets, the case for motivational rewards is alive and well.

But, are we simply talking the talk here, or is there enough evidence to justify us walking the walk? Well, let’s take a closer look…


Whilst we still encounter some scepticism about reward and recognition schemes, it is clear that employee incentives in the workplace matter; but here’s the main issue that creates that scepticism – their effectiveness and conceivable returns certainly vary. With diverse perceptions of what qualifies as a practical, worthwhile incentive for all parties involved, it’s important for incentive and rewards program organisers to do their homework before running amok with simply giving away free stuff.

Now of course, there are going to be instances where cash rewards have a positive role to play in employee engagement – environments where sales are heavily commission-based, for example – but they’re really not the one-size-fits-all solution that some people expect them to be.

It’s also important to note at this stage that while cash incentives may seem the obvious route to take when looking to inspire action from a targeted group of people (whether they’re employees, pupils, consumers or any other demographic), research tends to contradict this assumption, suggesting that encouraging monetary-based motivation isn’t always the best route to take to get the best results.

No two rewards programmes are alike. They all have their own unique aims and budgets, yet the value of the non-cash reward remains consistent regardless of targeted audience. Those who delve a little deeper will find that non-cash incentives – which include cinema and travel benefits – rule the roost when it comes to moulding and motivating the behaviours of their audience.


One of the leading authorities in incentives and rewards, the Incentive Marketing Association, note four key reasons why a non-cash incentives trump the traditional cash gift:

Evaluability: Thoughtful non-cash incentives have the ability to ignite the imagination in a way that enhances their perceived value. Experiences create lasting memories that build bridges, relationships and morale in ways that impersonal cash rewards cannot.

Separability: Non-cash incentives allow people to distinguish recognition from compensation, whereas the perception of cash rewards can become muddied. Cash rewards are also subject to tax and can get lost in amongst the rest of the money in someone’s account. After all, what’s the point in receiving a cash gift straight into your bank account if it slips out unnoticed whilst paying for your weekly shopping?

Justifiability: Those who earn non-cash incentives get a special satisfaction from receiving them, as they offer a guilt-free alternative to spending. This means that for people who are trying to save for their next big purchase, they’re receiving the gift of something they’ll really enjoy, without the worry of having to justify spending any of their precious cash.

Social Reinforcement: These types of rewards facilitate communication and alignment because people feel free and at ease to talk about them, whereas conversations about cash can come across as impolite, or even crass in some situations. After all, would you feel comfortable talking about your wages and bonuses with other people in your team?

This deeper value rings true across all manner of non-cash rewards – and the attraction of cinema is no different. In fact, over a whopping 75% of participants in a recent Filmology survey said they prefer to receive vouchers (including cinema rewards) instead of traditional, impersonal employee incentives. You can’t argue with those figures!


If anyone ever tells you that there’s no demand for non-cash incentives, you can tell them to think again.

The demand is indeed there and this has been reflected in the remarkable 17% growth in the non-cash incentives market since the Incentive Association/Incentive Federation’s last study three years previous. This just highlights the fact that there is a significant shift in the way everyone perceives motivational rewards, and we very much doubt this trend will show any signs of slowing down.


Looking a little deeper still, a 2014 report, assembled by Aberdeen Group and Incentive Research Foundation, consolidates this notion and still proves valid four years on. The survey found that 63% of higher performing organisations show a clear preference for non-cash rewards. So, this clearly isn’t a flash in the pan movement.

They have a stronger, more positive impact on the bottom line of businesses and represent a more personable appeal to an audience’s willingness to participate in activities, promotions, monetary based subscription services or anything you’re looking to achieve in your promotions or own company’s culture – the possibilities for their uses are genuinely limitless.


One environment where incentives are a necessity is the workplace. For business owners, they provide the opportunity to effectively motivate employees to buy-into their goals, visions and company culture. Plus, they’re a viable and effective alternative to simply inflating wages or cash bonuses.

And the facts support this statement. Unsurprisingly, a massive 67% of companies use non-cash awards for employees (Incentive Federation) and 62% of employees say they prefer a tangible reward when asked about their incentive preferences (Incentive Marketing Association).

Clearly, the benefits are there for all to see.

There is another factor in play here which is also pushing the effectiveness of cash-free rewards. By 2020, millennials will form 75% of the global workforce (PWC). What’s more, this growing economic force is heading a progressive shift in work / lifestyle ideals with meaningful and engaging reward and recognition and its’ heart. The trend is set. Three out of four millennial employees prioritise experience over tangible goods (PWC).

Workforce motivation and morale are indicators of a successful business environment – and cashless recognition programmes, such as experiential cinema rewards and incentives, can help nurture positive and productive behaviours in just about any workplace.


Industries and organisations continue to lean on motivational rewards to inspire current and prospective audiences.

Non-cash incentives give people access to experiences that may otherwise sit outside of their budget restrictions. And cinema rewards incentives epitomise this.

The Incentive Federation attributes memorability to the efficacy of these types of incentives and expresses a depth in the way rewards can influence our behaviour.

From enhanced levels of communication between employee and employer, to company-wide enthusiasm for incentive programs, and a so-called addiction to earning rewards, the benefits are far reaching to say the least.

The crux of it comes down to an increasing awareness of the modern expectations coming from the younger generations, emerging talented professionals and all manner of consumers.

To encourage engagement and motivate performance, businesses, organisations and institutions need to build relationships with their audiences. How? Through engaging and relevant cashless rewards and incentive programs.

In our blockbuster e-book, ‘The Reel Deal’, we explored everything from consumer promotions to out-of-school incentive programs – why not go take a look?