by Alex Palmer | November 12, 2015
While much recent research has noted the value and impact of incentive programs for employees, one area that has been less discussed is how rewards and recognition strengthens the performance of hourly workers. New research that delves into this question finds some reassuring data, but also that improvements could be made in how workplace rewards are aimed at hourly employees. 

The new study, called "Happy Hourly" comes from incentive provider Blackhawk Engagement Solutions, and drew on the responses of 830 U.S. hourly employees this spring. It found that about three-quarters (74 percent) of respondents with a college degree and 71 percent of without one feel their boss cares about them, while just over half (55 percent) said they received praise for their work in the previous week.

Where incentive and recognition efforts seem to be lacking was in tangible rewards. While a majority of both college-degreed (57 percent) and non-college-degreed (63 percent) respondents said the company they work for does have an incentive program offering non-cash rewards, as hourly employees they are often ineligible. 

"As a whole, current hourly employee rewards programs aren't all that rewarding, which is directly impacting not only their happiness in the workplace, but also productivity levels," said Rodney Mason, GVP of Marketing with Blackhawk Engagement Solutions, in a statement. 

Who does the recognizing is also important. Hourly workers with (57 percent) and without (62 percent) college degrees would prefer that the recognition -- whether or not it comes with an award -- come from a direct manager. A close second was a company executive. Only 37 percent of degreed and 45 percent of non-degreed employees would like to be recognized in front of their peers

Added Mason: "Hourly employees want more immediate and consistent recognition for their accomplishments from managers and executives, with rewards in the form of prepaid cards for exceeding expectations and taking on additional responsibilities."