Departments - November/December 2011

>> the insider

The Value of Motivation
Staples Advantage Survey Proves Employees Want Incentives

By Deborah L. Vence

It turns out that employees would work an extra week every year for company incentive programs—at least according to an online survey released in September by Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of office products company Staples Inc., based in Framingham, Mass.

The survey revealed that incentive programs can help boost performance and morale. To boot, one-third of office workers indicated that they would even be willing to put in an extra workweek each year, if it meant that their company would implement an incentive program.

"We found many of the key findings validated what we know and share with our clients every day, especially the fact that incentive programs make employees more loyal to their company (65 percent) and happier at work (70 percent)," said Anne McKeough, vice president of Staples Promotional Products. "For companies that are considering implementing incentive programs, this shows they can be a good recruitment tool."

More than 170 office workers at companies of various sizes and across industries participated in the survey. Completed in July 2011, the survey queried both incentive program participants, as well as employees whose companies do not currently offer incentive programs. Respondents also spanned various levels and departments within their organizations.

"Many of the data points also reaffirmed what we've been seeing and hearing, that incentives can make employees more productive (60 percent) and motivated (70 percent). Oftentimes, it's not even the big-ticket items that serve as motivators," McKeough said. "By making the gesture of saying 'great job' with rewards and promotional products, companies can help foster 'team spirit' and success among employees."

Some of the results showed that for employees who already participate in company-driven incentive programs, programs have made them:

  • Feel more valued (85 percent)
  • Happier and more motivated at work (70 percent)
  • More loyal to their company (65 percent)
  • More productive and able to get better results (about 60 percent)

"Rewarding employees for reaching their goals and/or good performance can have a positive impact on morale and encourage employees to continue performing at high levels. It is human nature that we all want to feel valued and appreciated," McKeough said. "People want to do good work when they're in a positive environment that recognizes and rewards their efforts. Incentives can help provide that extra bit of motivation to show employees their work is being noticed and provide a tangible reward they can be excited about."

Besides motivating existing employees, results also showed that incentive programs can serve as valuable recruitment tools. In fact, more than 70 percent of employees at companies without incentive programs said they'd love to work for a company that has one. And, in addition to working an extra week each year, these employees also would be willing to make other sacrifices if it meant that their company would implement an incentive program.

For example:

  • 30 percent said they would take on extra responsibilities.
  • More than 40 percent would be in favor of forgoing the annual holiday party.

To boot, respondents shared their most memorable rewards that included everything from mini-fridges to doggie life jackets and home theaters.

"The common theme was that these items were useful and meaningful to the recipients," McKeough said. "In addition to usability, incentives are often most memorable when they reflect a company brand. As a result, products that incorporate your company's logo are a great way to enhance both employee loyalty and brand visibility. These rewards, especially when useful, have longevity.