At a time when many business leaders are openly opposed to giving monetary bonuses to staff, is it time that more businesses look to reassess whether these financial rewards are still the best option in the current economic climate?

Bonuses have long been part of a formal remuneration package in certain industries and are a very traditional way to reward staff. However, this form of financial benefit can become an expectation for many, meaning that the money may not necessarily have any lasting impact to encourage continued high quality work. Equally, some businesses are edging away from cash bonuses due to limited financial resource or even to avoid the scrutiny that sectors such as financial services, have recently faced. In many cases, there are non-financial rewards which can be more financially beneficial for the individual and, at the same time, increase long term motivation and loyalty to the business.

According to research from Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services, 49% of employees would most like to receive a multi store card or voucher as part of their rewards packages, making it the most popular non-financial reward. This type of reward is clearly wanted by employees  as it encourages  them to treat themselves to something, rather than just absorbing the monetary bonus into their monthly pay cheque and spending it on the weekly food shop.

An example of where non-financial rewards can go further than cash bonuses are products like pre-paid cards. These cards allow employers to load promotional rewards, commissions, bonus payments and spot rewards onto a branded card which can then be spent in a huge variety of shops. Some cards offer employees cashback on their spending, meaning their money will go further. The benefit for business is that these cards can be branded so employees will be exposed to the employer brand each time they use the card, positively reinforcing the business with the employee.

Cash bonuses have for years served as a key element of an employee package. However, the current economic climate, combined with the competitive jobs market is causing many business leaders to get rid of bonuses in favour of incentives and rewards that directly serve the long-term objectives of their business. This trend is likely to continue, so it will be those businesses who plan and adapt their strategies accordingly that will reap the benefits.