Non-financial Incentives Motivate Most Employees – Study



Want motivated workers? Recognition for good work is appreciated by 70 percent of workers – a great motivator for high performance, according to a study by two companies.

“Workplace technology today, such as gamification, provides many new opportunities for non-tangible recognition,” said Cindy Ventrice, author of “Make Their Day! Employee Recognition That Works,” (www.maketheirday.com).

“With nearly one-fifth of meaningful recognition being delivered virtually, it is clear that these methods can be effective,” she asserted.

Cindy Ventrice


“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,” said Ken Comee, CEO of gamification company, Badgeville (www.badgeville.com).

Survey respondents included 1,200 employees spanned across virtually every industry – from healthcare to retail to technology.

Seventy percent of employees are increasingly motivated by recognition and virtual rewards compared to financial incentives. A similar survey by Make Their Day in 2007 showed 57 percent of respondents reported that their meaningful recognition had no dollar value.

Only 14 percent of responding employees said their best recognition or reward was of a gift over $1,000.

Ninety percent of respondents said that a fun work environment is very or extremely motivating. Such an environment was ranked higher than other factors such as job titles, cash equivalents, and gifts, in regards to what motivates employees.

“Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.”

-John C. Maxwell

Employees react to recognition:

  • 83 percent of responding employees said recognition for contributions is more fulfilling than any rewards and gifts.
  • 71 percent said the most meaningful recognition they have received had no dollar value.
  • 69 percent said that being recognized as an individual over a team was more motivating.
  • 76 percent found praise from their peers to be very or extremely motivating.
  • 88 percent found praise from their managers to be very or extremely motivating.

Career development is also a factor for employee retention, and was the salient reason for their job contentment. Seventy-six percent said opportunities for growth were the top reason they stay in an organization (this increases to 90% for millennials under 25).

In every age demographic, opportunities for growth were more motivating to stay in an organization compared to other factors such as relationship with manager and pay increases.

Another top reason people stay in organizations – the opportunity to work with people they like. Eighty percent said that working with people they like is highly motivating (this increases to 90 percent for employees 36 and older).

From the Coach’s Corner, more information on employee motivation:

Secrets in Motivating Employees to Offer Profitable Ideas – Savvy employers know how to profit from their human capital. Such knowledge is a powerful weapon for high performance in a competitive marketplace. Furthermore, there’s a correlation among excellent sales, happy customers, and high employee morale.

Tips for Marketing Your HR-Policy Changes to Employees – So you’ve identified workplace policies that need to be updated. But you want your policies to be accepted and followed by your employees. Employees are often uncomfortable with change even if it’s necessary for a business turnaround. Remember high morale among employees propels profits.

More Companies Know that High Morale among Employees Propels Profits – More companies are aware that employee engagement enables a better customer experience, which leads to higher performance. That’s a salient conclusion of the Temkin Group’s “Employee Engagement Benchmark Study, 2013.”

“An employee’s motivation is a direct result of the sum of interactions with his or her manager.”

-Bob Nelson


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.



Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.