When it comes to attracting, motivating and engaging employees, there's tons of research that highlights the merits of both monetary incentives and other types of rewards.
Sometimes it's the money honey, and sometimes it's not. That's why I love economics so much, the study of people and the marketplaces they live, sell, buy and thrive in, or don't thrive in.
I've heard more than one story about how to motivate and change behavior in your toddlers and children, how using behavioral economics, incentives and rewards can actually help.
Recently on Freaknomics, there was a report about why we should bribe our kids to change behavior. For example, giving them little inexpensive trophies to reward them for eating more fruits and vegetables.
And it worked. All the educational material in the world shoved down the throats of children and their parents didn't work, but the little trinkets that said "I did this" are what helped do the trick to eat the right treats. (Plus there's a bigger scope here for both kids and adults because we all struggle with making sound short-term decisions that will have a long-term benefit.)
So I said, "Hey Mama, we should attempt to do this with Bea and Bryce, combining positive discipline with incentives to encourage Bea to try different foods and to encourage Bryce to sleep all night in her bed and not wake you/us up."
And she said, "Let's do it."
And so we did. We put together a prize bag full of inexpensive toys and trinkets to have at the ready to reward. At first, it seemed to be a bust, because Bryce kept getting up and Bea, our fruit girl, wouldn't touch anything else.
But then Bryce slept all night in her bed without coming into our room and was rewarded with a prize from the prize bag. Then Bea ate some peas and liked them. Then Bryce stayed in her again and again and again and picked out prizes. And then Bea ate chicken nuggets and liked them (with a little help from sweet and sour sauce) and picked out a prize.
Positive progress is made up of rewarding incremental moments, not monumental change. So keep a prize bag handy for the kids (and adults), because recognition is where it's at.
Oh, and go to pirate birthday parties when you have a chance. Lots of good booty at those.