Don't Show Me The Money

New Study reveals cash rewards have no lasting value with employees

Expecting to hand out cash rewards for first quarter performance? Don't expect your employees to remember them.

A new survey sponsored by American Express Incentive Services (AEIS) and conducted by Wirthlin Worldwide shows that the largest number of Americans who responded - 29 percent - used their last cash rewards to pay bills. Another 18 percent admitted they couldn't remember where the money went.

Ideally, employees would use cash incentives to treat themselves and then remember when and why they earned the specific reward. However, those good intentions often fall by the wayside when the check is cashed.

"What the survey communicates to businesses is: 'If you really want to reward me, don't show me the money,'" says Darryl Hutson, chief executive officer of AEIS. "The employer's best bet is personalized incentives and rewards."

The study, conducted by Wirthlin Worldwide, surveyed more than 1,000 Americans. Of the survey respondents, only nine percent said they spent the money on a special treat for themselves. Five percent took a vacation. Remaining survey answers stacked up as follows:

Monetary rewards fall short because they aren't memorable. Instead of feeling personally rewarded and proud of their efforts, most employees spend bonuses on necessities like groceries and gasoline, which have no lasting value.

"Motivating employees with memorable rewards is a challenge, given the diversity of today's workforce," says Hutson. "Research shows that today's employees are most motivated by rewards that fit their individual lifestyles and desires. Allowing employees to choose rewards that have personal meaning will have significant, sustained value."

Don't remember-------------------------------------------------------------18%
Never received cash reward/incentive bonus---------------------------------15%
Gifts for family---------------------------------------------------------------11%
Household items-------------------------------------------------------------11%
Special Treat------------------------------------------------------------------9%
Something else----------------------------------------------------------------2%