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Obama rewards and recognition may pay off in the long run

Posted by Alexandra Haake on November 07, 2008

As a token of appreciation to his campaign staff, Barack Obama just announced in an email to his dedicated foot soldiers that any person who joined the campaign before Sept. 6 would be able to keep the laptop and cell phone given to them to use for the duration of the campaign. As if that were not enough, he also offered them healthcare until the end of the year, and as an additional bonus, a month of severance pay. The economist.com reported the news in their Nov. 7 blog.

The blog post points out that some donors (especially those who were asked for donations just the weekend before the election) may take an issue with the decision to donate these gifts to campaign workers. Obama’s campaign donations shattered records by raking in more than $600 million over the course of the primary and general election combined, according to a New York Times article. Under the Federal Election Committee rules, Obama can save the leftover donations for his next campaign, but is prohibited from using the money for personal use. While he would be wise to save the donations for his next campaign, in some ways his decision regarding the phones and laptops is key to reinforcing loyalty. These items have already depreciated in value, and are therefore worth more to those who have been using them over the past several months than to someone who would buy them back.

Anyone in the incentive industry should also understand the potential ROI from Obama’s decision. He used the element of surprise, which always adds to the meaningfulness of a reward. The gratitude he displayed toward his staff was publicly displayed, (naturally anything involving either Obama or McCain’s campaign is under media and public scrutiny). In some ways he also contributed to boosting the economy slightly by giving his employees a little bit of extra cash while they seek new jobs. In addition, Obama cemented his staff’s loyalty by giving them just one more reason to align with him as many of them seek jobs in the new administration, in public offices across the nation, or just as his supporters when the next election season rolls around.


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