Canadian companies have considerably increase their use of corporate employee incentive programs in the past two years, according to the "2012 Canadian Incentive Trends Survey" from Berkeley Payment Solutions. Despite continued economic uncertainty, the majority of executives and program managers confirmed that they have no plans to reduce their incentive program budgets in the next 12 months.

The survey polled 767 Canadian professionals from marketing services organizations, incentives firms, HR consultancies, and organizations working across industries and sectors. It was conducted in May 2012.

This year's survey shows a steady year-over-year increase in the number of organizations using incentives for employee programs. In particular, the survey reveals a 46% increase from 2010 (and a 21% increase from 2011) in the number of companies using incentives for employees programs - with more than three-quarters (82%) of respondents stating they have used incentives for employees.

When asked how they have used incentive programs, other uses include sales and channel programs (38%), marketing programs (37%), referrals for new customers/employees (34%), contests/lotteries (28%), customer loyalty/appreciation programs (27%), and customer retention programs (14%).

"Our research shows that increasing employee motivation remains a top management priority in the coming year, with the majority of respondents telling us that this is the case within their organization," said David Eason, CEO, Berkeley Payment Solutions. "As a result, we are seeing more and more Canadian companies adopt customized employee incentive programs to motivate and retain their employees - and ultimately improve overall company performance."

This year's survey reveals a continued, widespread commitment to the use of incentive programs, with two-thirds (66%) of respondents confirming they have used incentives, and more than three-quarters (86%) indicating the number of programs they are implementing increased or stayed the same in the past three years. And consistent with findings from previous years, the majority of respondents (59%) believe they gained a competitive edge over the competition as a result of these programs.

Of respondents who indicated they do not currently use incentives, budget constraints have remained the primary reason, with the same number of respondents (46%) in 2011 and 2012 pointing to lack of budget as the rationale. Similarly, of the respondents who are currently implementing incentive programs and plan to reduce or eliminate them in the next 12 months, one-third (33%) indicated it was due to reduced or no budget. 10% of companies in 2012 (down from 20% in 2011) plan to decrease their incentive program budgets in the coming year.

More than one-third (36%) of respondents either don't know if, or don't believe their employee incentive programs motivate all target age groups within their organization. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of respondents acknowledged that it is difficult to develop incentive programs that motivate a multigenerational workforce. When it comes to motivating specific age categories, almost half of respondents (46%) indicated that generational groups including Matures (67-plus), Boomers (48 to 66), Gen Xers (33 to 47), and Millennials (32 and younger) are equally difficult to manage in terms of choosing the most appropriate incentive to offer. Of these groups, Millennials were perceived as the most difficult to motivate with incentives (21%), followed by Boomers (16%), Matures (9%) and Gen Xers (8%).

This article appeared in World at Work

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