Total Reward Experience is What Motivates Employees: Cash Isn’t King Any Longer

September 28, 20158:22 am849 views

Companies looking to reward and motivate their employees with incentive awards need to focus on the total reward experience, and it frequently doesn’t include cash, according to a new study commissioned by the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA).

The Participant Study,” is conducted by the Incentive Research Federation (IRF) through Intellective Group for IMA, which is the largest, most statistically-complex study of participant award preferences done by an outside entity for the incentive industry till date.

More than 450 individuals were queried in-depth on more than 80 non-cash award types to determine their preferred kinds of travel, merchandise, gift card incentives and perks.

The data collected present each participant’s most and least desired total reward experience.

Key findings from the study are:

  • It’s the total reward experience that carries more positive impact than the reward itself. The study found that between 40 and 70 percent of a participant’s preferred award experience was determined by non-award presentation factors such as who give the award, how it’s communicated, and what professional impact it carries.
  • According to the study, each individual profile had unique award profiles in terms of preferred award, presentation / ceremonial aspects, potential for professional development and advancement, among many other preferences.

See: Top 8 Innovative Ways of Employee Recognition

  • The study personally valued and weighed more than 110 different aspects of the total award experience. This presents a challenge for businesses to work harder than ever to personalize incentive programs, as there is no “one size fits all” approach.
  • For large rewards, such as annual sales program recognition, the study found that when participants were rewarded by the right level of management, with the right communication and professional development, 80 percent would prefer incentive travel and experiences in that award scenario, not cash.
  • For smaller awards, such as short term and spot recognition programs, the study found that when participants were rewarded by the right level of management, and with the right communication and professional development potential, about 66 percent of participants preferred a personally-meaningful non-cash reward instead of cash.

“A key lesson for businesses from this study is that every type of reward — merchandise, gift cards and travel — all outperform cash, and that assuring a positive and personal total reward experience has a major impact on participant motivation and behavior, which ultimately affects employee performance and talent retention,” said IMA Executive Director Donna Chrobak.

This research is the best proof yet of the motivational importance of non-cash awards as part of the total award experience and dispel the myth that if you give participants a choice, they will always choose cash.

Business improves when employees and customers are recognized, rewarded, and engaged through effectively structured programs with defined goals and proven returns.

It is time for companies and HR managers to recognise and implement the right total rewards incentive program to motivate employees, as “one-size-fits-all” approach cannot work here.

Each individual award requirement needs to be taken into consideration when determining the total reward approach to boost employee morale and confidence.

Also read: Employee recognition trends to watch out for HRs in 2015

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