HR & Management

Food, travel and health are the key to motivating staff – not wage hikes

4 min read

16 September 2015

A survey of workers has found that it isn't just the promise of more cash which makes them work harder.

Businesses which think that bigger bonuses are the golden ticket to harder working staff should be offering improved benefits such as health insurance and money off food and travel instead.

These are the main findings from a new survey from One4all Rewards called “Push The Button” – which questioned 1,000 British workers about what motivates them in the workplace.

The study found that while rewards and incentives are often effective for maintaining morale and attracting staff simply handing out large lumps of cash is not an effective way of increasing staff effort.

Indeed it found that 78 per cent of workers believe they would not work significantly harder in exchange for a bonus equivalent to ten per cent of their annual salary. Even incentives equivalent to 25 per cent of annual salaries would not motivate 59 per cent of workers to work harder.

One4all Rewards added that the findings suggested that incentivising staff to work harder is about much more than bumping up their bank balances and that 64 per cent of employers which are awarding bonuses have to “design and distribute them carefully” in order to increase staff output and motivation across their workforce.

Businesses are also being urged to look at alternatives to bonuses, with the survey finding that one in five workers are motivated to work harder by regular rewards such as weekly or monthly treats.

It found benefits that make salaries go further by covering employees’ monthly costs –such as pension contributions, health insurance, savings on travel or food – would result in an increase in output for 18 per cent of employees.

Declan Byrne, UK managing director at One4all Rewards, said: “From this research, it’s clear to see that while bonus culture is impactful, it isn’t always an effective driver of increased output or motivation for many employees. As it can be very expensive for businesses, this is an important learning for many UK employers to acknowledge. 

“We would recommend that employers clearly define their objectives for an incentive and benefit scheme, and find out which type of reward does and does not switch on the desired results in their employees, at the very initial stage. It is important to define the goals and the likely results from the outset. When used in this way, financial incentives can be really effectively utilised to ‘switch on’ employees to work harder – often with great results for the bottom line.”

John Byrne, performance coach at Mindcoach, added: “We know from research in this area that direct monetary incentives work more effectively with some people and some roles more than others. So I’m not surprised that money isn’t an equal motivator for all employees, because we’re human and it’s natural to want different things and value things differently. 

“If you want to get the best return on your investment in rewards and incentives geared towards engaging and motivating employees, you are better to tailor your approaches. After all, no one wants to be just another employee. People leave high paying jobs because their other human needs aren’t being met. It’s human to want to feel understood, valued, cared for, connected and relevant.”