Rewarding Employees Without Cash | Incentive&Motivation

Employee Benefits & Employee Incentives News: Rewarding Employees Without Cash

Just how can you reward without cash? Is it possible? We spoke to James Kelly, Red Letter Days Motivates Director around the hints and tips that can really work!

“Research continues to show us that a lump sum of cash does not effectively motivate staff. Your employee may feel delighted by the bonus at the time, but cash tends to be swallowed up in mundane items such as household bills and the benefit your employee receives is very short lived. People also don’t like to talk about cash and you have to get the amount of money correct to make sure employees appreciate the reward. For example, if the bonus amount is too small you may end up demotivating your employee rather than motivating them. It’s a tricky one to get right.

But all is not lost as there are plenty of other ways you can reward your employees to make them feel appreciated and engaged. We recently carried out research with 2,000 UK employees to nd out what really motivates them. One-fifth of people (21%) said they felt motivated at work all of the time; we asked this group to name five things that motivated them at work and interestingly the ‘cash type’ reward, such as a pay rise, came in third place. Then it was around completing a piece of work that they found particularly challenging:

The results show employees are not necessarily looking for a tangible reward to feel valued for what they do. Further evidence for this was discovered when we explored whether staff lost interest in a task when a reward wasn’t up for grabs. We found that the more motivated an employee is, the less the need for a carrot to be dangled in front of them to make them succeed.

This completely tips on its head for employees who are not motivated at work. For example, out of the employees who said they felt motivated at work all of the time (26%)two-fifths of this group said ‘no’ they would not lose interest in a task if a tangible reward was not up for grabs. Yet, the employees who said they didn’t feel motivated at work (15%), two fifths of this group said they would lose interest if a reward was not available to them.

“So if we don’t offer gifts as a reward, what else can we offer? Well, we know setting a challenge for an employee will get them engaged in what they’re doing, however our research also shows that flexible working and autonomy to get on with a task is also a form of reward to employees.

“We asked sta what was the most motivating thing their manager could do and almost half (49%)
of people said ‘let me get on with my job’. Close behind was ‘say thank you and show appreciation when I have done well’ (41%) and ‘be flexible with my hours’ (24%). The stats show that when looking for other ways to reward employees above and beyond cash it’s important to think outside the box. You could set employees a challenge and mark the occasion if the challenge is met, reward their hard work and dedication by allowing them to work flexible hours to fit in with their lifestyle, and reward them with your trust and freedom and to carry out, run and manage a di cult task on their own.

However, as there will always be a need for a tangible reward the best alternative to cash is a gift voucher. We asked employees want award they would like to receive from their employer and even though a third (31%) said cash – next on the wish list was a gift voucher. A voucher that can be spent across
a wide range of brands, shops and restaurants is a more rewarding alternative to cash as you can
more or less guarantee that it will be spent on your employee – not general expenses. A voucher is more personal too. Your employee will feel recognition towards their company when buying and using their purchase, giving the gift a longer lasting motivational effect. The purchase will also create a memory which is invaluable when it comes to employee engagement.


  1. Completing a piece of work that is challenging (37%)
  2. Learning new things to help with development (32%)
  3. A pay rise (31%)
  4. Finding a solution for a difficult problem (30%)
  5. Receiving a reward for doing a good job (25%)

Incentive and Motivation offers the latest news in employee benefits, rewards, incentive programmes and recognition. Discover the best employee engagement platform, learn about communicating your incentives or the latest tech in the HR space. Popular posts: