When Cash Incentives Aren't Enough

Dear Levy,

My company regularly recognizes employees for their hard work and contributions to the workplace. Primarily we give financial rewards to deserving employees. There have been times that employees seem dissatisfied with the reward or they have complained the amount of the reward is not enough. What do you do for employees who believe that even though they received a reward, it’s not enough and they feel they deserve more?

-- Never Enough

Dear Never Enough,

Incentives and recognition are an important part of motivating employees in the way of achieving company goals and sustained productivity. Kudos to you for already implementing a rewards program in your company. While financial rewards are still a popular way to show employees appreciation, it is also common to run across the occasional dissatisfied, seemingly entitled employee who is certain their work is worth more than what they received. Your company does not suffer alone when it comes to struggling with delivering satisfying financial rewards to deserving employees.

Financial rewards are an excellent motivator and provide a short-lived sense of accomplishment for the receiving employee. However, being pressured to give more simply based on their desire to have more lessens the effectiveness of the recognition program for others. Crying for more money as an incentive gift goes against the pre-set budget and award cap, your company has set at each tier of the rewards system. Employees who have achieved the same level of accomplishment have accepted a lesser dollar amount than those your company is rewarding extra for merely being the entitled squeaky wheel. Financial awards must always be in proportion to the value of the employee’s contribution. It must be made clear to the entire workplace the fixed dollar amount they can earn for the level of work expected.

As stated before, financial rewards are short-lived. Numerous studies have shown that in modern payroll practices and the age of direct deposit, employees who receive the monetary bonus hardly take notice. And when they do, they think they are deserving of more because it’s no secret that everyone wants to make more money. Companies are beginning to see the consequences of only giving financial incentives. Employees who have not earned a bonus struggle to remain engaged and productive while those who have received a monetary bonus demand more. The mix can create a toxic work environment that results in the company bleeding money to incentivize undeserving employees to appear as if the playing field is even.

As a solution, these companies are opting out of cash incentives and replacing them with non-cash recognition programs that allow employees to earn points that can be ‘cashed in’ for incentives and gifts. Because employees have the power to choose the tangible gift or reward item, there should be no question of satisfaction. Programs offer a wide range of products and incentive gifts that employees can earn. Points-based systems allow employers to dole recognition to deserving employees in a predetermined structure. Employees are motivated to earn more through their participation in the program, completing work tasks, and other various opportunities for recognition. In turn, they exhibit a higher level of engagement and naturally produce higher quality work.

It’s a win-win for companies struggling to provide incentives that satisfy everyone. Non-cash incentive programs offer equal opportunity for employees to earn and empower them to set goals, work hard, and achieve the recognition they want.

Have a questions about employee recognition, incentive programs, or need recognition ideas for your employees? Ask Rachel!

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