Non-cash Incentives Leads the 2011 Employee Retention Strategies

by: Nichole Gunn April 15, 2011

In a recovering work environment employees are able to take a breath of relief and become willing to take risks in regard to finding more satisfying work opportunities. This should have employers taking note and initiating strategies that will enhance employee retention.

To address this issue, the wise business move is for employers to establish incentive programs that focus on employee recognition programs. Honor and reward programs are a good place to start since they are proven to inspire employee motivation and engagement.

A number of studies have been conducted in efforts to determine the most effective type of reward for fostering employee engagement and thus retention, and one of the most recent is a February 2011 study conducted by the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF). Findings from the study found that non-cash compensation is the new focus. Being ‘the chosen’ rewards strategy for 2011, there are a number of ideas businesses can use to enhance their non-cash reward system.

IRF president Melissa Van Dyke explained, "In the emerging economy, non-cash compensation will play an increasingly vital role for most firms. However, like any corporate resource, it needs to be invested wisely and managed properly.” She added, “Our findings are intended to give planners the perspective they need to gauge options, make decisions and build a better business case in a changing industry.”

Backing up the IRF findings, business strategy consulting group McKinsey also found non-cash rewards to be a key option for businesses. In addition, McKinsey found that within the non-cash reward system three areas are ‘up and coming’ as great motivators: recognition of employees by business leaders and management; supervisor support in the workplace; and the opportunity for employees to spearhead projects. The group noted that these three non-cash rewards strategies are as effective in fostering employee satisfaction as the three top cash rewards strategies.

While the economy is getting its legs back and businesses are still feeling the effects of a slow market, non-cash motivators may be a company’s best friend. “The economic slump offers business leaders a chance to more effectively reward talented employees by emphasizing non-financial motivators," the IRF added.

Utilizing programs that are socially beneficial will allow companies to recognize enhanced employee engagement levels. The IRF study demonstrated that companies with "Corporate Social Responsibility" (CSR) strategies effectively raise engagement rates, as more and more workers are becoming environmentally aware. According to the IRF research, CSR strategies are number three in a list of effective employee engagement factors. This is not surprising since 34 million people are strong advocates of environmentally safe products.

Employers are sure to produce the desired employee recognition and participation by taking advantage of non-cash reward incentives. Internal recognition and initiating environmentally safe campaigns are two key motivators in the 2011 strategies to boost employee retention.


About Nichole Gunn

Nichole Gunn is the VP of Marketing at Incentive Solutions, an Atlanta-based incentive company that delivers advanced, agile B2B customer loyalty and channel sales incentives programs.