Use of employee incentive programs remains steady in Canada but many companies give rewards that employees don't value

TORONTO - June 24, 2014 - Despite the lackluster economy, 69 per cent of Canadian companies are using incentives and rewards to motivate their employees, with half saying their program budget remained the same in 2014, according to findings from the 2014 Canadian Incentive Trends Survey released today.

Results from the fifth annual survey reveal three significant findings:

  • A gap exists between the incentives Canadian organizations use and the incentives they believe employees actually want
  • Motivating today's multi-general workforce continues to be a challenge
  • The perceived difficulties of administering and measuring incentive programs have dropped sharply over the last year

The results from the survey find that more than half (53%) of those surveyed offer company-branded merchandise, while almost three-quarters (73%) use retail gift cards as incentives to motivate their employees. However, survey participants rank prepaid Visa, MasterCard or American Express cards the highest when it comes to motivating employees. The survey results show that those polled prefer these prepaid cards two times more than retail gift cards and nine times more than merchandise.

The survey results also indicate that today's multi-generational workforce can be challenging for Canadian companies when choosing an incentive to motivate employees. While 64 per cent of those surveyed believe their programs take a multi-generational workforce into consideration, 53 per cent find it somewhat difficult to motivate all age groups. 39 per cent say the most difficult generational group to pick an appropriate incentive for is Millennials.

"Our research over the past five years has shown that participant satisfaction continues to grow as a key measure of success for corporate incentive programs, yet Canadian companies are still offering traditional incentives that they don't believe their employees want," says Eason. "This is indicative of the incentive merchandise model that dominates the rewards space. It's unlikely that administrators are getting the full benefit from their programs if the incentives they choose are not truly valued by their employees."

Additional industry highlights from the 2014 Canadian Incentive Trends Survey include:

  • Employee incentive and rewards programs are not just for big businesses in Canada, with 64 per cent of respondents indicating they work for an organization with less than 500 employees.
  • Organizations from a wide spectrum of industries in Canada use employee incentives and rewards with 70 per cent of those polled indicating they are in the private sector.
  • Four out of five measure program success.
  • Retail gift cards are perceived as the most cost-effective incentive.
  • Experiential special events or experiences such as concert tickets or sports events are perceived as the least cost-effective incentives.

While it's clear that budget and lack of awareness hinder Canadian organizations' use of incentives, perceived difficulties in administration and measurement show a stark correction in 2014 as the incentive and rewards industry responds to corporate needs for ease of use and a more measurable return on investment:

  • In 2013, 22 per cent of respondents cited they did not use incentives because they were too difficult to administer, while in 2014 this number dropped to 10 per cent.
  • In 2013, 20 per cent of respondents did not use incentives because measuring results or ROI was too difficult, while in 2014 this number fell to 9 per cent.

"Our fifth annual survey shows that employee incentive programs are getting easier to manage and measure. Innovation in the incentives industry is driving the delivery of new and easy-to-use tools that are cost-effective and save time," adds Eason.

Finally, the 2014 Canadian Incentive Trends Survey results also find that prepaid cards continue to grow in popularity with year-over-year growth in 2014:

  • 70 per cent of those polled say they use prepaid cards as part of their incentive or rewards program in 2014 versus 63 per cent in 2013.
  • The top reason for choosing prepaid cards is ease of use.
  • Prepaid Visa, MasterCard or American Express cards rank as the top incentive to motivate all age groups, particularly Millennials.
  • Those who measure program success say prepaid Visa, MasterCard or American Express cards provide the highest return on investment.

About the 2014 Canadian Incentive Trends Survey

Now in its fifth year, the Canadian Incentive Trends Survey is the only research of its kind. Berkeley Payment Solutions conducts the research to gain insights into the views and practices of Canadian companies with respect to their corporate incentive programs. This year's survey was conducted in May 2014 and polled 669 Canadian professionals from marketing services organizations, incentive firms, human resources consultancies, government agencies and corporations from across the country. It included companies of all sizes and across numerous sectors including financial services, consumer packaged goods, telecommunications, retail, healthcare, media and advertising, manufacturing, and government. Survey results are accurate +/- 3.7%, 95% of the time.

About Berkeley Payment Solutions

Berkeley Payment Solutions is the largest incentive program manager in Canada for corporate MasterCard prepaid cards and Visa prepaid cards. Collaborating with business-to-business and business-to-consumer clients, channel partners, non-profit organizations and marketing agencies in Canada and the United States, Berkeley creates custom prepaid incentive and payment solutions that can be used for a wide variety of programs. For further information, visit

Media Contact
Lizanne McReelis
Echo Communications (for Berkeley Payment Solutions)

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