THE BABY BOOM GENERATION is leading a new trend — lifestyle incentives — by choosing rewards such as cosmetic surgery, family/adventure travel, and home improvement items over cold, hard cash. A recent survey of 731 top sales employees conducted by Anderson Performance Improvement Co., Hastings, Minn., found winners redeeming their award points for the former as well as electronics, clothes, and jewelry.

The reason for this upswing in lifestyle incentives is simple: lack of time. Aging boomers are faced with increasing demands on their time, and have been forced to put aside activities that used to be important to them, such as home improvement. So they are choosing incentive rewards including new appliances; landscaping; swimming pools; exterior house painting; and new carpeting, decks, flooring, and windows for their homes.

These seasoned professionals are not motivated by cash rewards because they feel compelled to use the money to pay off bills or put it toward college tuition. They prefer “feel-good” items such as electronics, clothing, and jewelry. More companies are also reimbursing incentive winners for approved, individualized lifestyle items, such as gift certificates to favorite stores or even elective surgery, such as plastic or lasik surgery.

The boomer generation also wants more time with their families, which is evidenced by the rise in individual incentives, especially trips they can take with their children.

Companies are also finding that immediate payoffs, rather than long-term incentives, get strong results with this age group. As a result, there has been growth in on-the-spot rewards for achieving a particular result laid out in an incentive program.

How are companies adjusting their traditional plans to fulfill these new expectations? Are employers ready to reinvigorate their incentives after several years of belt-tightening? Without question. In just the past year, Anderson Performance Improvement has seen an increase of noncash incentives of about 40 percent among its clients.

Louise Anderson, president and CEO of Anderson Performance Improvement Co. (, is the author of Cream of the Corp., a book of practical suggestions to get people doing things that accelerate company profits.