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Study finds room for growth in employee incentives

New research suggests that there is plenty of room for improvement when it comes to the employee reward programs that companies offer their staff.

New research suggests that there is plenty of room for improvement when it comes to the employee reward programs that companies offer their staff. A recent study by payments firm Ixaris found that the majority of employees in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France and Germany had not received incentives from their employers

Across all five nations, only a quarter to a third of workers had benefited from rewards for exceptional performance. The U.K. lagged furthest behind the rest: Only 23 percent of respondents said they had received incentives from their employers at some point over the last two years. The U.S. fared slightly better, with 28.6 percent of employees being recognized for their achievements with tangible rewards, while 31.8 percent of Canadians and 31.2 percent of French workers were given incentives.

According to Employee Benefits magazine, Ixaris Chairman John Chaplin noted that while these numbers seem low, employee incentive programs can be difficult to execute, as they require managers to balance the needs of both their companies and their staff.

"Employers that recognize the efforts of their employees with rewards benefit from a more motivated workforce," Chaplin said, as quoted by the news source. "However, for [incentive] programs to be as effective as possible, employers need to balance the desires of award recipients with the interests of the organization."

Nonetheless, there are some basic principles that managers can keep in mind to ensure high-performing employees don't feel under-appreciated. In an interview with Entrepreneur magazine, Ravi Gajendran, a professor of business administration at the University of Illinois, pointed out that recognition should be given for truly exceptional achievements, so that staff members will work toward higher goals and feel accomplished when they're rewarded. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt University Professor of Practice Management David Owens told the news source that managers should be sure to walk around the work space so that they can see high-quality work as it happens and offer employees verbal affirmation.

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