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Blog : Is pay ever a good motivator for engagement?

Blog

Is pay ever a good motivator for engagement?


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Following on from her presentation at The Employee Engagement Alliance, Antonella Vaughan investigates the currency of reward and recognition.

 “Show me the money!” probably a phrase best known from the film, Jerry McGuire (and Tom Cruise looking his best). A phrase that is also becoming as outdated as the movie. So why do people still believe that money is a top motivator?

There is a reason it’s called ‘cold hard cash’. Research has shown that when dealing with cash incentives, people are process driven and mechanical in their thinking. In other words, people become overly logical: How much will go to the tax-man? How much will I actually spend on luxury items? If presented with a household item of the same value as the cash, you’ll be driven by an emotional response to perceive that the item is more valuable than the cash itself. People automatically justify owning the item, and it’s more socially acceptable than ‘splashing the cash’ on the goods. These psychological processes, driven by societal norms and expectancy theory, provide a strong case to use non-cash incentives. They tend to drive increased motivation.

“Non-cash award programs would work better than cash in such cases as reinforcing organisational values and cultures, improving teamwork, increasing customer satisfaction and motivating specific behaviours among other programs.” – Author, Patricia Odell

Aren’t non-cash incentives the things you want your reward and recognition programmes to be working on? Cash incentives do motivate, don’t get me wrong, but what are they motivating? And for how long?  The majority of cash incentive programmes have the tendency to reward just the end performance. Sales people are rewarded for making a sale, recruiters are rewarded for making a placement. This is a snapshot of an employee, and only provides a small insight into their overall performance. For a more long term, strategic reward and recognition programme, you need to identify the behaviours you want to reward; behaviours that lead to success. Avoid rewarding one off performance, focusing instead on the behaviours for long term success. And make sure that reward and recognition are relevant for your workforce, aligned with personal motivators and extensions of your culture.

And of course, if you have a great reward and recognition programme, shout about it. How else will potential employees know how well you engage your employees? Use internal people platforms such as Talent Toolbox, your intranet and newsletters to recognise your employees, get everyone excited and everyone feeling part of something bigger. According to Accelir’s recent Rewards & Recognition trends report, 82% of organisations don’t incorporate their social media strategy with their reward and recognition programmes. With so many digital natives in the job market, it’s crucial you make your organisation as approachable and applicable to as much of the emerging workforce as possible.

Organisations that integrate their reward and recognition programmes with their overall employee engagement strategy have proved they are able to attract and retain their talent better than their competitors. At Purple Cubed, we believe that reward and recognition are one of the foundation factors in your employee journey, ones which you need to get right before you have engaged employees. Organisations that have a strong culture and understand the behaviours they are rewarding have higher customer satisfaction, increase organisational performance and overall a more fierce competitive advantage.

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