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Rewards, Incentives & Motivation

Matthew Brew
Matthew Brew

Most learning leaders already recognise the critical role of training and development in their organisations. But too many people have spent thousands of dollars on flashy content and a ‘cutting edge’ learning platform, only to find that:

  1. no one uses it, or;

  2. it doesn’t achieve the desired business outcomes

One of the most widely discussed topics in the learning industry is how to encourage your team members to make learning a regular habit.

In this post we explore rewards, incentives and motivation, and how our eduMe community are using these effectively.

Countless theories of motivation have been proposed over the years to explain why we act the way we do. One of the best-known ones is incentive theory, which suggests that behaviour is motivated by a desire for reinforcement or incentives. So what exactly is an incentive, and how can you use it?


  • incentives are a way to motivate people to do something e.g. the promise of a stock option or commission, or the threat of losing your job

  • incentives can be POSITIVE or NEGATIVE - we usually describe these as sticks or carrots

  • incentives are usually external, however, some incentives can trigger internal rewards like feelings of accomplishment, community or autonomy

  • incentives should always have a time period, a measurable action or goal, and a reward or outcome associated with them


  • a reward is a prize or benefit given to someone for an achievement, for good performance, etc.

  • rewards can be extrinsic or intrinsic, positive or negative (i.e. a penalty or punishment)

  • extrinsic rewards can be monetary (e.g. a cash prize or gift certificate) or non-monetary (such as a trophy or formal recognition from your boss)

Motivation, Reward or Incentive?

  • motivation and incentives provide a CAUSE for an action or behaviour, whereas rewards are a RESULT of the behaviour

  • incentives are offered BEFORE the action takes place, while a reward or penalty is given AFTER the behaviour

  • a reward can be unplanned e.g. your boss might give you an unexpected pat on the back to reward a special achievement

  • rewards can also be strong motivators, as they reinforce the target behaviour (you’ll continue to perform well in the hope that you’ll be rewarded again)

  • with extrinsic motivation, we act specifically to earn a reward or avoid a punishment; with intrinsic motivation, the activity itself is rewarding (or provides an internal reward)

Some practical examples from the eduMe community

Data Allowances

Offered as part of monthly packages or as a one-off onboarding bonus.

Prize Draws For Course Completion

Previous prizes have included a slow cooker and smartphones, whatever works for your teams!

Prize Draws For Most Engaged

A range of prizes for users who read all eduMe Messages and have the highest course completion over a given time period.


Connected to sales targets and communicated through eduMe Messages.

Systematic Checks

The release of company smartphones based on onboarding course completion for new starters.

The release of stock to field sales agents based on the completion of recent courses.

Weekly Tests

Agents who get 100% in their end of week test for 4 weeks in a row receive company merchandise such as t-shirts, jumpers, etc.

The biggest benefit we recommend is having team members at all stages and levels involved in promoting engagement. This has led to a 116% increase in sales for Greenlight Planet and a 66% increase in productivity for Tigo.