Financial bonuses gain preference in employee rewards

More than two thirds of IT employees show a preference for being rewarded in cash, says survey

A market scarcity in skilled IT workers and increasing cost of living have been said to be leading factors in a shift in how Australian employees prefer to be rewarded for good work.

More than two thirds of the 1,881 IT employees recently surveyed by recruitment agency Hays Information Technology showed a preference for being rewarded in cash, while 15% valued internal recognition and 16% preferred non-financial bonuses such as weekends away and gym memberships.

The survey findings represent a marked change from those of a similar survey conducted by Hays in April 2006, in which nearly half of the survey respondents were said to prefer internal recognition, with only 9% valuing non-financial bonuses, and a mere 42% of employees preferring cash rewards.

According to Hays regional director Peter Noblet, the way in which employees are rewarded for hard work or successful results has a significant role in employee engagement — which, in turn, has repercussions in employee retention.

“Financial rewards such as bonuses or an earlier salary review have become increasingly important to employees over the past 12 months,” he says. “Consequently, an effective reward strategy needs to incorporate cash components.”

“Business activity has increased and people are generally busier in their jobs,” Noblet explains.

“Coupled with the knowledge that we are in a candidate-short market and given higher grocery, petrol and mortgage costs, employees’ emphasis has moved to cash payments rather than non-cash benefits.”

However, electronics vendor Altium’s chief people officer, Kerri-Ann Wilson, is careful not to overlook the importance of non-financial benefits in acknowledging employee contribution.

“Often companies neglect the value that talented people place on aspects — things like challenging work, career development and the opportunity to make a difference,” she says. “In our experience, the non-financial benefits and internal recognition are just as important as the financial rewards.”

On top of their salary packages, share options and profit-sharing, Altium employees enjoy the benefits of free meals, gym memberships, mobile phone plans and free car parking; conveniences that Wilson believes to make the lives of Altium employees a little easier.

And the benefit scheme seems to be paying off for Simon Moulton, a 32-year-old system support worker who has been employed at Altium for five months.

“Being given just monetary rewards would be less personal than the benefits we get at Altium,” he says.

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