By Daniel Hunter

The love of our jobs and monthly salaries are not enough for most of us to stay motivated, according to a new study by payments innovators Ixaris. Over 80% of employees feel that a rewards programme would communicate that their work is properly valued.

The 2013 Study of Rewards and Incentives examines workplace motivation and what employers can do to maximize the effectiveness of reward programmes. The research is based on an independent survey of 4800 employees in the UK, USA, Canada, France and Germany, carried out by Gx, the global exchange for prepaid and emerging payments.

The study reveals that nearly 70% of employees would put in extra effort at work if they knew they would be rewarded. However, less than a quarter have received a reward or incentive from their employers in the last two years.

While there is some variation across markets, cash and retailer gift cards are by far the most common rewards provided by employers. Cash is one of the most popular choices of reward for employees in all markets. However, over 70% of respondents said that they would treat a cash reward just like regular pay, implying that cash rewards do little to create lasting behavioural change. Retailer gift cards on the other hand are not a popular choice of reward for employees. Recipients of retailer gift cards may be disappointed rather than motivated by their reward, which goes against the purpose of an incentive programme.

The study suggests that ‘open’ gift cards which can be spent anywhere may be a good choice for employers looking to implement an incentives programme. Nearly two thirds of respondents believe that an open gift card which can be spent anywhere makes a better reward than a retail gift card which can only be spent at a single retailer.

John Chaplin, Chairman of Ixaris, comments, “Employers which recognise the efforts of their employees with rewards benefit from a more motivated workforce. However, for incentives programmes to be as effective as possible, employers need to balance the desires of award recipients with the interests of the organisation.

“Ixaris allows corporate incentive agencies and companies in general to build incentive programmes based on virtual or physical prepaid cards. Prepaid cards can be spent wherever Visa or MasterCard are accepted, allowing employees to spend rewards where they want. At the same time, Ixaris’ virtual or prepaid cards can be decked out in corporate branding and so act as a reminder for employees to perform at their best. After all, this is what an incentives programme should be about.”

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