We all like to receive rewards…who doesn’t?

But as an employer, how do you know what type of rewards your employees want to receive? How do you make them feel special about their achievement and make it magical?

When it comes to giving rewards, there are 3 options:

• Cash

• Vouchers

• Gift/Merchandise

Monetary Rewards

The volume of monetary rewards and vouchers traditionally far outweigh their non-monetary gift equivalents. It is an easy way to reward employees for achievements, long service, sales, attendance and above  & beyond behaviours. However, easy does not necessarily mean most effective; is £300 of vouchers for example or gaining an extra £300 in pay a celebration of their achievement?

It is sometimes said that cash is a motivator until the time it is spent…

Cash rewards has no lasting effect; it is a short term fix and can get mixed in with income, daily expenses and almost immediately loses its association with both the organisation who provided it and the achievement that earned it. It doesn’t show that the employer cares much about the reward and what is important to the recipient as a person?

Merchandise Rewards

On the other hand, a non-cash reward can be tailored to the needs and interests of the employee, showing a greater amount of thought than that of a simple cash sum. It will provide a constant reminder of how and why they earned it. They also allow the recipient to show off their brand new gift to their friends and family and thus enhance their social credibility.

A non-cash award can be more affordable to organisations than alternatives such as cash bonuses that have costly tax implications or complicated commission structures.

Criteria Cash/Vouchers/Gift cards/Pre-paid cards Gifts/Merchandise
Flexibility Complete choice of gifts only limited by the cost of the reward Choices can be restricted by type, dimensions, legislation and policy criteria etc
Choice The recipient has greater freedom over their gift item(s) Choices made by employers need to be driven by recipients tastes and desires
Impact Unimaginative – does not stir emotions in the same way a meaningful gift can Hold greater meaning to the recipient and can increase motivation
Longevity Fulfils a short term impact and rarely live long in the memory unless in the value of a life changing sum Live longer in the memory and increase association between gift, giver and achievement
Cost The value of the reward will always equate to the purchase cost More affordable – the cost of a gift will often be less than the value of the reward


When carefully designed and tailored to align with an organisation’s own culture and needs, rewarding your staff in a more structured and memorable way, will not only provide a greater impact but also help you to reinforce the actions and high-performing behaviours you most want to see, as well as providing a motivating, exciting and driven working environment.