Mind the gap | Incentive & Motivation

The big debate

Mind the gap

To what extent are the perspectives, motivations and needs of different generations changing the reward and incentive landscape?


Our panel of experts discuss….

Colin Hodgson, Edenred
“As the reward and motivation landscape has evolved in the last few years, one of the big changes has been driven by the breadth of age groups in the workplace and how they work. But although there is talk about how different the needs of Gen Y are from Gen X or Baby Boomers, I think this distracts from one simple truth about people at work: Everyone has a desire for acceptance and recognition; and praise is motivating.
“When we work with our clients we have three golden rules the first is to understand the audience – that means avoiding making assumptions based on age or stereotypes. It isn’t the case that Baby Boomers can’t use a smartphone. The second is to personalise the communication. This is about the tone of voice, content and channel. The third is to give choice. Don’t second guess what your employees want – let them choose what suits them best.”

Dr Jenny Leeser, Bupa
“Rather than treating the generations as different, with different needs and different requirements, it may be more helpful to look at how you motivate individuals.
“While more experienced workers may place more value on benefits such health insurance and the technology-savvy generation want to take advantage of being able to work from home, or even the coffee shop, employers must guard against falling in to stereotypical traps. Communication is vital to make sure the whole workforce has access to the benefits that they truly value.
“What really motivates people is other people. Employers should focus on the atmosphere they create at work, and the damaging effects of redundancies and tough economic times. The best incentive for hard work is to create a strong team that works for each other, where people are free to talk with each other, take time out from a busy day and feel support from their colleagues.”

Maria Anderson, Momentum UK
“This new generation of employees, Gen Y, aren’t just younger; they have different expectations, goals and experience. Growing up, Gen Y received constant feedback that they were special and could do whatever they wanted. They have high self-esteem and believe they can do anything.  A Time study showed 40% believe they should be promoted every two years (May 2013). 
“The future of our economy is driving more towards that of a good work-life balance. By adopting flexible working employers can benefit from higher levels of engagement, commitment, loyalty and wellbeing from their employees. This ultimately leads to higher levels of productivity and performance as well as encouraging a more diverse workforce.
“By allowing more flexibility through hot-desking, flexi-hours and home working, there is also an opportunity for the business to grow without increasing overheads.”

Fiona Roberts, Volkswagen Group UK
“Following a session with our Gen Y employees, we introduced a flexible benefits offer, a casual-dress Friday, and a more relaxed meeting zone with wi-fi, so you don’t have to sit at your desk to work. We also have a flexible working policy for people to flex their daily hours and support working from home, if the job allows.
“Gen Y will be loyal to their careers and less so to individual businesses. For this reason, reward that is linked to time served at the company will no longer be appropriate. They won’t wait for the company to say they are ready, but will want recognition when they believe they are ready. Therefore, a more flexible reward strategy is needed, which allows individuals to convert reward into benefits that people can take with them, or that help support their chosen lifestyle.
“Gen Y is incentivised by shorter-term success and reward. This doesn’t have to be monetary, but it does mean that a graduate scheme that offers a joining bonus, or a car may be favoured over one that doesn’t. We have an employee car ownership scheme, so everyone gets a car for £75 per month and they pick the one that best suits their needs. However, there needs to be a balance between long and short-term I&R. Short-term recognition can be inexpensive but visible – longer-term incentives tend to be more expensive and harder to earn.”

Natalie Vescia, Wickes for Business
“It’s important to feel valued! Most employees, regardless of their age and lifestyle, will respond well to effective I&R programmes if they are delivered correctly.
“I&R programmes are tried and tested ways of motivating employees and have a proven impact on the bottom line. When considering the delivery mechanism or the reward offered, I&R can vary enormously to cater for the scope of ages, lifestyles and attitudes encompassed in a workforce.
“An important first stage is the choice of reward. When planning what type of reward to offer staff, employers must consider what would be most appropriate for the individual, rather than adopting a one-size-fits-all approach. Good, effective communication is also key to the success or failure of a motivation strategy. Businesses must think carefully about how they communicate a motivation scheme.
“Different generations of employees respond well to different communication. For example, in a recent study, OfCom found that young people use smartphones more intensively than older users, with more than half of teenagers now owning one and 60% admitting they are ‘highly addicted’ to their device!”

Richard Mills, PizzaExpress for Business
“When we look at I&R schemes, age groups are one of the key factors we identify early on as it affects delivery. Generally, if you have a younger workforce, full of people who have grown up with the Internet, smartphones and tablets, they want fast, instant rewards, so we tend towards e-delivery and e-gift cards. With PizzaExpress’ ecodes, we can send a reward or thank you straight to a person’s inbox, and they can redeem electronically at the point of purchase.”

Simon Kenwright, Maverick
“Gen Y refuses to follow the rules laid down by its predecessors. They vote with their feet if they’re not getting what they need so, given the costs of recruitment, it’s cost-effective to understand and respond to their needs. Many organisations work in an environment based on the parent-child model, centred around deeply hierarchical structures and measured on presenteeism. Physical presence is not a measure of success, which is why organisations need to shift their thinking, to accommodate the needs of the new kind of employee, and their new styles of working. What we’re seeking is a more partnership-based, results-driven working environment which provides accountability and autonomy, in which everyone is clear about goals and how they are measured, but one where the individual works out how to achieve them.”

Jenny Cuthbert, Restaurant Choice
“We’ve seen that there is market demand for electronic solutions. We’ve come a long way in last 40 years in how we interact with technology and in how we consume as individuals and as households. However, the beauty of the modern workplace is that there is a still a place for both paper vouchers and plastic gift cards, as well as new electronic solutions. These varied delivery options appeal to different generations, meaning that all solutions remain current and relevant.”

Angela Webster, SVM Europe
“When looking at motivation it is important to understand the four different generations as perspective, attitude and needs are very different to each group. By understanding what makes them tick and matching accordingly will be the heart of any successful motivation programme.
“It is important that any reward and recognition or motivation scheme is diverse enough to cover all four generations, i.e. attractive to the traditionalist who naturally would be motivated by more formal means, through to Gen Y who wants it now and at a touch of a button!
“Successful motivation programmes are those that tick the boxes for everyone, the critical elements being flexibility and choice. We find that the successful programmes are those where the recipient has a choice both of retailer but also how that reward would be delivered, such as a physical gift card or a digital code.”

Mandy Precious, The White Company for Business
““If you have a more mature workforce, they may be more used to handling paper and receiving things via the post and will therefore prefer paper vouchers with a denomination clearly printed on it. They wouldn’t necessarily expect an electronic reward. The White Company’s paper vouchers are perfect for this generation, not only in terms of delivery but also from the fact that it is an aspirational brand. This may not be a highly tech-savvy generation, but the vouchers do have the flexibility of being able to be redeemed online, in store and on the phone.”


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