Employee rewards must focus on values

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on August 13, 2012

Companies can improve the effectiveness of the employee reward and recognition programmes they invest in by focusing more on participant values, according to a study by Maritz Motivation Solutions.

The study found that, while businesses have spent more on employee reward and recognition programmes in recent years to both attract new talent and to retain good employees, only 45.3% of employees say they feel meaningfully rewarded or recognised by those programmes.

"Businesses tend to create employee programmes in a vacuum, adopting a one-size-fits-all approach," explained Michelle Pokorny, solution vice president of employee engagement and recognition for Maritz Motivation Solutions. "However, to truly engage employees, businesses need to understand what drives and motivates individuals, and then design a programme to fit those needs. We know people pay more attention to things that align with their values so understanding the predominant values of your people is a great place to start in making your programme more relevant."

The study indicated a relationship between how effectively employees felt rewarded and recognised, and several factors that can be improved with good programme design. These factors include leadership support, reward and recognition efforts of direct managers, appropriate reward options and communications, support of personal goals, alignment with company strategy, reinforcement of consumer-focused actions, and alignment with corporate culture and values.

The study also indicated a relationship between feeling meaningfully recognised and levels of engagement. For example, among employees who stated they were not meaningfully recognised:

  • 80.4% did not agree with the statement, "Overall, I am completely satisfied with my job".
  • 58.3% did not agree with the statement, "I feel motivated to go beyond my formal job responsibilities to get the job done".
  • 71.4% of those not meaningfully recognised did not agree, "I would be very happy to spend the rest of my career with my company".

"To engage employees in a manner that is meaningful and motivating requires an understanding of our innate human drives and what people value and view as important," said Pokorny. "In all cases, we have to consider that employees are people first."

To identify opportunities for creating better employee programmes, the study focused on distinguishing the specific drives and values of employees relating to reward and recognition programmes. Four distinct employee value segments emerged: Altruists, Drivers, Pioneers and Stabilizers. Each segment possesses values unique to their particular segment, specifically about how they work, how they prefer to be rewarded and recognised, and how to effectively communicate to them.

Maritz Motivation Solutions designed the study in conjunction with The Maritz Institute to help employers understand employee values, attitudes, intentions, and reward and recognition preferences. The study also serves as a model for the company's new Motivation Insight research product which aims to provide companies with employee-related insights such as: how an individual, their manager, and the organisation can impact motivation; the impact of an organisation's recognition and rewards culture; how manager support impacts motivation; the relationship between employees' perceptions of the organisation's values and their own personal values; and the impact of performance-based reward systems on motivation. By understanding the values held by each of these employee segments, companies can develop approaches that take into account the wants, needs and motivators for specific employee groups. This knowledge can help companies tailor communications, rules, rewards and recognition to meaningfully engage more employees in achieving the company's mission and goals.

"Values work as a powerful filter for what we pay attention to, so understanding the predominant values in an organisation is hugely important to breaking through the overload of information and reaching people. With these specific employee value segments, companies can better understand and respond to the uniqueness of employees, as well as their different needs in employee programmes," added Jennifer Kallery, division vice president for Insight Services at Maritz Motivation Solutions. "Overall, greater understanding will help companies design more effective and efficient reward and recognition programmes, leading to happier, more engaged employees who deliver on the brand promise."

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