Developing incentives to motivate a multigenerational workforce among challenges

Employers have considerably increased their use of corporate employee incentive programs over the past two years, according to a recent survey.

The survey found a steady year-over-year increase in the number of organizations using incentives for employee programs. In particular, the survey found a 46 per cent increase from 2010 (and a 21 per cent increase from 2011) in the number of companies using incentives for employee programs, according to the 2012 Canadian Incentive Trends Survey by Berkeley Payment Solutions (survey is no longer available).

More than three-quarters (82 per cent) of the 767 respondents have used incentives for employees.

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

"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."

The majority (59 per cent) of respondents 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 per cent) in 2011 and 2012 pointing to lack of budget as the rationale, found the survey.

More than one-third (36 per cent) of respondents either do not know if, or do not believe their employee incentive programs motivate all target age groups within their organization. In fact, nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) 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 one-half of respondents (46 per cent) indicated that all generational groups 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 per cent), followed by baby boomers (16 per cent).

"Designing compensation and incentive programs that appeal to individuals across all age groups can be difficult," said Ingrid Buday, HR co-ordinator at Teranet. "The challenge is in creating a program that is flexible, measureable and valued by all recipients."

When asked which incentive program they believe is the most cost-effective, the highest number of respondents (32 per cent) selected retail gift cards. Other responses include merchandise (30 per cent), prepaid credit cards (26 per cent).

David Eason

This article appeared in HR Reporter.

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