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Have you ever had a friend, significant other, or family member surprise you with a small gift “just because?” Feels great, no?

Perhaps they saw something that made them think of you, or they simply wanted to give you something as a token of appreciation. Whatever the reason may be, there’s no doubt that spontaneous gifts are wonderfulthey are genuine and represent sincere appreciation.

You can take this simple idea and apply it to employee engagement in the professional world. Even though employees receive a salary, people still get a spark of joy and excitement when offered a genuine and spontaneous gift. 

Asset 1Case in point, a study from the Journal of Human Performance shows that working adults who engaged in a challenging mental task performed better in pursuit of a non-cash incentive than of a cash incentive of equal cash value. Even though participants stated they prefer to receive the cash award, the results of the study suggest otherwise. Once again, humans aren't so great at predicting what makes them happy.

Ultimately, this study suggests employees will work harder for tangible non-cash incentives and rewards.

That’s why more and more organizations are investing in Years of Service Programs and Employee Rewards Programs to better engage and recognize their employees.

Let’s have a look at some eye-opening statistics that highlight the importance and implications of an employee rewards program.

bigstock-Excited-Male-Worker-Congratula-243501370Surprising Realities Of Non-Cash Incentives At Work

Current Reality

According to The Conference Board of Canada, almost 90% of organizations have a formal reward and recognition program in place.

It seems that although many organizations have a reward program in place, the same report found that only 37% of organizations agree that their rewards programs consider multiple generations in the workforce.

Despite that the trend seems to suggest reward programs are commonplace, a more concerning stat shows that 41% of employees say their employers effectively reward employees for their great work.

In short, over half of employees feel they’re not being rewarded effectively.

Matters are only made worse as a Globoforce study shows that only 14% of organizations provide managers with the necessary tools for rewards and recognition.

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Effectively rewarding employees

Let’s demystify some common assumptions about reward-giving in the workplace.

Asset 30First off, let’s start by acknowledging that rewarding employees isn’t something managers only care about. Most employees agree: rewards are an important component of work. A study showed that 88% of employees agree that it’s important that employers reward employees for great work.

Not only that, a Gallup study showed that a lack of recognition remains one of the most common reasons why employees leave an organization. And further research suggests that the more talented the employee is, the faster they leave.

Another Gallup study showed that employees who do not feel adequately recognized are twice as likely to say they'll quit in the next year.

These studies suggest just how important recognition and appreciation are when it comes to making employees feel important and valued.

That said, a common assumption is that employees prefer cash rewards. The truth is that research shows that 65% of employees actually prefer non-cash incentives.

When it comes to time and a place to give rewards, think about the anecdote from the beginning of this article about a gift that comes “out of the blue.” Most employees agree with this story. An Incentive survey found that 47% of employees want to receive a personalized reward spontaneously.

The same survey found that 38% of employees want to receive rewards in exchange for good work.

Lastly, when it comes to the reward type, a strong preference for experiences and personalized merchandise was found. Surveys show that 65% of employees surveyed strongly agree that both travel and merchandise awards are remembered longer than cash payments.

The impact of rewards and recognition on employees

The impact of rewards and recognition on employees is undeniable. A growing body of research shows precisely how much recognition is pivotal to the motivation and engagement of workers.

For example, an Academy of Management study showed expressions of gratitude led workers to feel valued and see where their actions impact the big picture, which compelled workers to be helpful, supportive of others, and go the extra mile for their organization. 

Another often-cited study from the Journal of Personality & Social Psychology showed a simple expression of thanks by someone in authority led people to be 50% more productive.

Lastly, a report from Business Solver showed 93% of employees say they’re more likely to stay with an empathetic employer.

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