by Matt Alderton | March 16, 2018
They say that cash is king. In the case of employee recognition, however, the throne belongs to feelings, not finances. So says employee engagement and customer loyalty firm Xexec. According to a survey of nearly 2,000 people that it published this week, what employees want more than financial rewards are rewards that make them feel loved.

Among Xexec's findings:

• Employees are more likely to value bespoke, personalized awards over money: Two-thirds (66 percent) of employees said they'd rather receive two tickets to a concert of their choice than three times the value of those tickets paid into their paycheck over the course of a year; 34 percent of employees chose the money. The opposite was true for small, non-personalized gifts such as cake, ice cream, or chocolate; only 35 percent of employees chose the token gift, while 65 percent chose receiving 10 times its monetary value in additional salary.

• The most popular work-related awards are annual leave and public recognition: Four in 10 (43 percent) employees said annual leave is the work-related benefit that would make them feel most loved at work, followed by public recognition (15 percent), team drinks (15 percent), training (10 percent), professional mentoring (7 percent), sleeping in once a week (7 percent), and getting a parking space for a month (2 percent).

• Spontaneity speaks: Nearly half of employees want to receive rewards spontaneously (47 percent), while four in 10 (38 percent) want to receive rewards in exchange for good work. Only a few wanted to be recognized on traditional calendar events such as birthdays (10 percent) and Christmas (5 percent).

• Family matters: Most employees would rather celebrate rewards with their families (52 percent) than with colleagues (39 percent).
 
Said Jamie King, head of global reward at Xexec: "Employee recognition is about motivating and engaging team members by recognizing their day-to-day contributions, so it pays to know what rewards will be popular. Employees want things that are going to make a difference to their personal lives and interests, whether that be extra holiday or tickets to a concert of their choice. Indeed, the monetary value of a reward is by no means the key concern for employees. At the same time, it's clear that employers need to go above and beyond things like annual bonuses and birthday treats if they really want to make their employees feel loved and appreciated. Regular and spontaneous recognition has a much greater impact on employee engagement."