by Alex Palmer | July 05, 2013
Employees are embracing virtual rewards at a growing rate, a new report finds. According to research by employee motivation firm Make Their Day! and gamification platform Badgeville, 70 percent of workers say that rewards that were meaningful to them did not have a specific dollar value, up from 57 percent six years earlier. 

The findings come from the responses of more than 1,200 employees from a wide range of industries about what drives their work performance. The last time this survey was conducted was 2007. 

Among the findings are that 83 percent of employees feel that recognition for contributions is more fulfilling than strictly monetary or tangible rewards. Additionally, 71 percent said the most meaningful recognition they have received had no dollar value.

“The value of non-tangible recognition is clearly identified in our findings,” said Cindy Ventrice, president of Make Their Day! and author of Make Their Day! Employee Recognition That Works, in a statement. “Workplace technology today, such as gamification, provides many new opportunities for non-tangible recognition. With nearly one-fifth of meaningful recognition being delivered virtually, it is clear that these methods can be effective.”

The survey found that the type of praise and who offers it have a major effect on its impact. More than two-thirds of respondents (69 percent) said that individual recognition was more motivating than team recognition to them. While 76 percent said they found recognition from their peers “extremely motivating,” 88 percent said the same about recognition from their managers.

The rising interest in virtual rewards is especially noteworthy in light of a recent report from McKinsey & Company [http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/organization/motivating_people_getting_beyond_money] which found that praise and new opportunities were more effective motivators than cash or stock options. 

“The results of the Make Their Day! study align to what we've seen across our customers deploying gamification solutions for workplace engagement, as well as numerous reports over the last few years on the changing face of what motivates employees today,” said Ken Comee, CEO, Badgeville, in a statement. “Workers of all ages, especially the rising millennial population, are motivated by real-time feedback, fun, engaging work environments, and status-based recognition over tangible rewards.”

The full results of the study, as well as an infographic of its findings, can be found here.