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How truthful are your employees?

By April 30, 2014 May 6th, 2020 No Comments

This was the line used by a speaker to kick-off a webinar I recently attended at the Rewards and Recognition Virtual Conference.

Of course I don’t really know if your employees are hiding the truth from you and your fellow managers. And really if they are hiding the truth, this isn’t the type of lie that has any ill intent. It’s more just human nature.

But here’s what I do know from many years of experience in the recognition industry: If you ask your employees what reward they would want to receive out of any other, the answer is most likely going to be a resounding: “Cash”. It’s almost like a knee-jerk reaction. People just answer cash that without even thinking. This has been proven in many surveys in Australia and beyond – staff say cash is King.

Why would we say cash? Well it’s flexible. It can be spent on anything we choose.

But here’s the real question we should be asking…

Is cash really the most motivating reward?

The answer is no.

In a recent study carried out by Dr. Scott Jeffrey he set out to answer that question. In his study, Dr Jeffrey focused on 441 call center employees. Of these 441 people, 224 were in pursuit of a cash incentive and 217 were in pursuit of a non-cash incentive of equivalent value. In the study Dr Jeffrey classed gift cards as cash. Over the course of the three month study, the participants were asked about how frequently they thought about the rewards they were hoping to receive from the program.

At the end of the study, the results were quite surprising. Here’s what he discovered. On average, program participants who were being motivated with tangible, non-cash awards actually thought about their unearned rewards nearly 40 percent more than did the control group working toward the exact same goals for a cash reward of equal value.

Additionally, the study was able to quantify that the call center representatives working toward the tangible incentive had almost 25 percent greater commitment to their goals and delivered roughly a 10 percent higher performance than those working for cash.
This study clearly demonstrates three important points:

1.In comparison to cash awards, tangible and non-cash awards elicit more frequent visualisation by employees.

2.Employees who visualise rewards are shown to have both a greater performance and are more likely to commit to and achieve their goals.

3.While the assumption is often made that low income earners are best motivated by cash, this study indicates that tangible rewards still have a greater impact on desired business outcomes, even on call center employees.

So perhaps it’s time to rethink rewards programs that offer cash? Cash is NOT King! Rewards that leave a lasting impression are proven to be a far more powerful motivator, and can often be more cost effective for your business, as the perceived value seen by the employee can be higher than the cost to the business.

Many companies are now seeing the real benefits of implementing non cash based recognition and reward programs that focus on recognising behaviours that are in line with corporate values such as customer service (internal or external) and rewarding staff performance with a variety of creative intrinsic and extrinsic rewards designed to motivate and engage their employees.

What improved performance would you see if your programs included non-cash instead of cash?

If you would like to learn how to motivate your team Brownie Points can help you. Call the team today on 03 9909 7411 or email us at

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