Companies that thrive in the future will be those that figure out how to motivate an ever-diversifying workforce. It's not just the traditional salesperson who needs an incentive these days, according to Dr. Lawrence Watson of Hay Management Consulting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Watson addressed the 1996 Society of Incentive & Travel Executives (SITE) International Conference last fall, which drew 397 members and guests to Vienna.

In addition to salespeople, Watson said, companies' profits depend on non-sales employees who work with the sales team, "brain" workers who neither produce nor sell a product, part-time workers, "leased" workers, and telecommuters.

Not only must companies learn how to motivate these diverse workers but they also must learn what types of incentives work best for different ethnic and cultural groups, same-sex couples, and unmarried workers. They also need ways to motivate the members of temporary teams who bring together different skills (at varied rates of compensation) for one project and who might not ever work together again.

Here are some of Watson's specific motivation guidelines: * Workers from outsource firms- "These 'stringers' should be involved in incentive travel, as well as in training and development, even though they have no contract with you," Watson said. "You have to treat them as a separate entity and do specialized programs for them."

* Brain workers-"Number one is the internal environment where they work. They want an unfettered environment with learning opportunities. And they are probably independent travelers who want an individual program."

* Non-salespeople-"Draw them into the same travel program with sales, so they feel as one and feel they have equal goals and equal importance," Watson said. The problem is how to quantify what they do, what it is worth to the company, and how it justifies a trip.