UK workers rank bonuses as top motivator in 2009

More than three-fifths (61%) of UK workers say bonuses are the benefit most likely to motivate them to do a good job (on the personneltoday.com website) in 2009, according to research from Reward & Benefits Today, part of the XpertHR Group.

The research is based on responses from 500 full-time employees to a survey undertaken by poll company GfK NOP. It finds that by responsibility level, two-thirds (67%) of junior managers are most motivated by bonus payments, compared with just over three-fifths (61%) at senior manager level.

The next most commonly cited benefits in terms of impact on employee motivation are: extra leave (mentioned by 40% of respondents); promotion (38%); and praise from colleagues (36%).

The findings on the enduring appeal of bonuses – in spite of recent bad press generated by the role of bonus pay as an alleged cause of the global economic downturn – is in line with those of newly published IRS research, which focuses on employers’ attitudes to bonuses.

The IRS survey – based on responses from 122 organisations, together employing 599,800 workers – finds that three-quarters (74.5%) of UK employers say bonus/incentive schemes are effective in meeting their stated objectives (subscription required).

A focus on the main objectives of bonus/incentive schemes reveals that promoting/rewarding sustained high performance and improving individual performance are the principal aims (cited by 74.2% and 73.2% of respondents, respectively), closely followed by improving company profitability (mentioned by 66%).

The combined evidence of these two surveys suggests we are unlikely to see the demise of bonus schemes in the wider UK economy any time soon. Indeed, the current economic downturn arguably increases the importance of bonuses and incentives as a key reward tool for many employers.

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