Study Finds Incentives Produce Better, Happier Employees
By Alex Palmer
October 28, 2013
There are plenty of opportunities to expand incentive programs across the globe, a new report shows. According to research by prepaid virtual card provider Ixaris
, only about one quarter of employees have received an award for outstanding performance in the past two years. At the same time, the study found plenty of support for the value of incentives, with large majorities of respondents agreeing that reward programs are key to communicating the value of their work.
“The Ixaris Study of Reward & Incentive Preferences,” which drew on the responses of more than 4,800 individuals across five countries, found that Canada and France to have the highest level of employees who have received an award in the past two years (31.8 percent and 31.2 percent, respectively). On the low end were employees in the UK and Germany, with 23 percent and 24.7 percent of workers who had been rewarded, respectively. In the U.S., 28.6 percent of U.S. workers said they have been recognized and rewarded for outstanding performance.
The study’s authors point to economic challenges as a key reason for these low numbers, as well as the limited resources available to incentive planners and HR executives at smaller companies.
“Smaller businesses, where the HR manager is also likely to have multiple roles besides HR, often feel constrained both in resources for the awards themselves, and for the time and mind-space to fully comprehend how and why to run a successful program,” writes John Chaplin, chairman of Ixaris.
The importance of recognition was reflected in responses to a number of other questions in the study. More than 80 percent of respondents agreed that receiving an incentive made them feel valued. About 70 percent agreed that they put in extra effort when they know they will receive a reward for good work.
The report also found more evidence for the value of non-cash rewards. While about 70 percent of respondents said that they use cash rewards just like regular pay, more than 75 percent of respondents said that receiving a gift card led them to treat themselves to something special.
“Categorizing an award as ‘special’ … creates a stronger association between the award and the action that caused the award to be given,” writes Chaplin. “Because gift cards are likely to be turned into things that are of high value to the recipient, they tend to be better at creating these mental accounts.”