Extra money and free time incentivise staff the most

Research suggests workers desire cash incentives and extra annual leave as rewards for good performance

Managers have long wrestled with the question of how to effectively motivate staff knowing that increased staff productivity makes a considerable difference to the fortunes of a business.

Forward-thinking HR departments have begun to employ a range of incentives aimed at boosting morale and eliciting the best performance from employees.

One popular method is the implementation of a staff-only scratch card campaign.

Such internal campaigns can be custom designed to include a range of prizes that cover a number of different scenarios.

But the question remains: ‘which prizes would staff prefer to be offered?’. To answer this, Derby print firm Purely Digital commissioned a survey that posed exactly that to employees across the country.

In this article, we take a look at what makes an internal scratch card campaign, as well as some of the prizes that will most motivate workers.

How does an internal scratch card campaign work?

Simply put, scratch cards can be distributed to staff who have achieved a milestone such as ‘most sales’, ‘outstanding conduct’ or ‘goals exceeded’.

These scratch cards work much like those sold over the counter or given out as part of a business promotion: a card features a scratch-off area under which is either a simple fruit machine-style ‘matching game’ or a code.

Players reveal what is underneath and then refer to a prizes ‘key’ or go online to find out what they might have won.

What prizes should you aim for?

The best way to engage staff using schemes such as these is to choose prizes that are actually desired rather than perfunctory. It is all too easy to put time and effort into an elaborate campaign only for staff to switch off and lose interest because the rewards on offer do not hit the mark.

The following table displays the results of a survey commissioned by Purely Digital, which asked the question ‘If you were given a scratch card as an employee reward, what prize would you like it to contain’.

Participants were asked to pick one or more of several options. The results are as follows:

Job rolesTime stayedAverage salary
Enterprise Architect 7 years and 6 months£80,669
Machine Operator
5 years and 8 months £23,576
Shift Manager
4 years and 4 months £27,999
Team Leader and Director 3 years and 9 months £21,396, £45,405
Coach3 years and 7 months £36,118
Cashier and Shop Manager
3 years and 6 months £23,610, £25,253
Social Care Worker
3 years and 4 months £29,804
Cleaner Casual and Chief Executive Officer
3 years and 3 months £16,247, £42,673
Office Manager3 years and 2 months £33,025
Chief Marketing Officer 3 years and 1 month £46,712

The next table shows the breakdown in terms of age:

ReigonAverage SalaryAnnual Change
Eastern England£32,1653.0%
East Midlands£30,7411.5%
North East England£30,1414.5%
North West England£31,3964.0%
Northern Ireland£34,5764.4%
South East England£33,1813.7%
South West England£33,3198.9%
West Midlands£31,8981.2%
Yorkshire and The Humber£30,9062.7%

Best prizes allows us to choose how to spend our free time 

If we look at the results, we can see that ‘small financial reward’ and ‘more annual leave’ come top of the wish list, a clear 20-plus percentage points ahead of the next best options, ‘activity days’ and ‘free product’.

While all four of the results can be said to relate to facilitating employees’ free time out of work, it is useful to note the top two incentives represent a clear freedom of choice regarding leisure time, while those in third and fourth place are more prescribed in what they offer.

When we look at the age breakdown, we see that it is more of the younger workforce who are driven by the prospect of extra cash.

However, this same age group (18–34) are also happiest to go on some kind of activity day arranged by their employer, whether that be a high-adrenalin outing such as an instructor-led climbing lesson, or something more relaxing like a nail salon.

Almost twice as many workers in the 25–34 age range said they would enjoy a discount on their businesses product or service. Interestingly, this is often the age at which staff are most focused on making their way up the career ladder and establishing loyalty to their company.

Why are employee incentives good?

So you have identified what to offer, but what benefits does such a scheme bring?

Incentives can be used to encourage a type of behaviour or ethos that those in the company believe will lead to greater business success in the future.

Before designing a scratch card incentive scheme, it is best to define the type of attitudes you wish to encourage in your staff.

These may include:

  • Greater productivity
  • Increased team work
  • Improved quality

To get the most out of an incentive drive, it is important to communicate the rules of the scheme clearly and comprehensively or risk resentment and discontent among your team.

For the best results, those running the scheme must:

  • Define beforehand what behaviours they wish to reward and what they hope to achieve
  • Communicate to staff why these incentives are being offered
  • Make all rules, regulations and criteria clear from the outset
  • Set out the timeframe in which scheme is being run
  • Let all employees know why certain workers have been rewarded

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