Six employee types, and the rewards they prefer

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on March 29, 2007

More than half (55%) of employees either agree or strongly agree that the quality of their company's recognition efforts impacts their job performance, according to a recent Maritz Poll. But only 43% of employees agree or strongly agree that they are consistently recognised for their performance in ways that are meaningful to them.

To help companies better understand the impact of offering the right and wrong recognition rewards to employees, Maritz Incentives and Maritz Research studied employee reward preferences and uncovered six distinctly different employee types.

Personality types
Although each company has different proportions of each employee type, a survey of the general population found that (when rounded to the nearest percentage point):

  1. 22% are Award Seekers;
  2. 20% are Nesters;
  3. 19% are Bottom Liners;
  4. 17% are Freedom Yearners;
  5. 16% are Praise Cravers;
  6. 8% are Upward Movers.

These profiles demonstrate how one type of reward can work well for some employees, but not for others. For example, a simple "thank you" goes a long way with Praise Cravers, but would not be so well appreciated by Bottom Liners. The profiles also showed that offering flexible scheduling would keep a Freedom Yearner more committed to the company than, say, a cash bonus.

Profiles close-up
Specifically, each of the employee profiles identified was described as follows:

  1. Award Seekers
    Award Seekers want rewards that have both monetary and trophy value. They are far less motivated by rewards that take time away from their normal routines, such as the opportunity to mentor other employees, work with people outside their own area, or take on challenging new projects.

    Reward Preferences: Gift cards and travel awards.

    Employee Traits: Younger than other segments; 58% female.

  2. Nesters
    Nesters are turned off by rewards that take them away from home. Travel awards and the opportunity to attend conferences were least appealing to this group. Achieving a good balance between work and personal life is especially important. They want to go home after a hard day of work and enjoy their families, rather than going on trips that take them away from their loved ones.

    Reward Preferences: Days off, flexible scheduling and dinners out with their families.

    Employee Traits: Older than other segments; 54% male.

  3. Bottom Liners
    Bottom Liners are less concerned about trophy or award value and are really only concerned about the monetary value of rewards. They place very little emphasis on receiving verbal or written praise. It is likely that, if a company did not attach something of monetary value in their recognition efforts, their efforts would be considered ineffective with this group.

    Reward Preferences: Cash bonuses or cumulative award points programmes that they can accumulate to obtain rewards.

    Employee Traits: Typically have high job dissatisfaction; 59% female.

  4. Freedom Yearners
    Freedom Yearners are less materially motivated, with limited interest in things like gift cards and cumulative award programmes. They are best rewarded by giving them flexibility. Freedom Yearners are often people that have already achieved a certain level of financial success and security and are now more focused on doing work that is personally meaningful without an excessive amount of management interference.

    Reward Preferences: Flexible hours, freedom to choose how to achieve their goals, ability to choose interesting and challenging projects and opportunities to attend conferences.

    Employee Traits: 55% at least 45 years old; 55% male; had the highest proportion of people making over $100,000 (22%).

  5. Praise Cravers
    These individuals value any type of praise more than any other segment. They have a greater desire to have their work acknowledged, with or without an accompanying award of monetary value. This group also has the least interest in days off or flexible scheduling, suggesting that they receive a great deal of personal satisfaction from a job well done that is recognised accordingly. Among this group, simple stated recognition of good work will have much greater impact than with most others.

    Reward Preferences: Verbal, written or formal praise from managers or informal praise by peers.

    Employee Traits: Desire a higher degree of affirmation; 54% male.

  6. Upward Movers
    Upward Movers are the most satisfied and committed among all of the employee segments. They are the least interested in cash bonuses, days off and flexible scheduling. These people love their jobs and want to move up in the company.

    Reward Preferences: Status awards, meals with company management or opportunities to mentor other employees and work with people outside their own areas.

    Employee Traits: 68% male; 42% 34 years old or younger; 66% manage direct reports; 30% executives; 20% never worked anywhere else prior joining their present company.

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