Lessons from Clark Griswold: Give Experiences, Not Cash
Clark Griswold had big plans for that Christmas bonus! You remember that scene from the classic movie, Christmas Vacation. Clark envisions his beautiful backyard pool in the summertime as he gazes out his window on a very wintery Chicago night. The BBQ, the family time, and even his annoying cousin followed by a swimsuit-clad supermodel jumping off the diving board.
His big dreams of using his Christmas bonus to put in the family pool come crashing down when he receives his “Jelly of the Month Club” Gift from the office. Cousin Eddy even kidnaps Clark’s boss in retaliation!
But here’s the problem with cash-based incentives and bonuses: Unlike Clark Griswold, not too many people use them for memorable or life-changing items or events. According to research completed by Professor Adam Presslee of the University of Waterloo, people “may prefer tangible non-cash rewards because they know they will spend cash on something pedestrian, for example paying the utilities, buying groceries and making car and mortgage payments.” In a similar study conducted by Dunn, Aknin & Norton, it was found that because people used their cash rewards towards the very everyday things they needed, there was very little emotional connection between the cash they received and what was purchased. When asked to recall what bonuses they received in previous years, respondents clearly had a hard time remembering the amounts they received and what they used the money for.