29 May 2019 | by Ami Dorkings

Can money motivate and retain employees in the same way as incentive travel? This is a million dollar question. Historically, cash incentives have been a heavily utilised method of motivation for employees. However, recent studies indicate that this trend is changing rapidly, or at least it should be, with 65% of surveyed employees stating that they prefer non-cash incentives. This shift in employee preference is likely due to the ever-changing workforce. With ‘Millennials’ representing a significant proportion of the UK’s workforce, the millennial generation have a new perspective on what is important, which can often contradict methods that have motivated previous workforce generations. Businesses put a significant amount of resources into understanding the wants and needs of their customers, it is equally important that organisations listen to their employees and work to adapt their internal approaches including reward, recognition and incentive programmes ensuring that they are best suited to maximise employee well-being and business objectives.

When it comes to reward and recognition it is clear one size does not fit all. Employers have the tough job of creating programmes and solutions that accommodate a wide range of employees, unfortunately, only 37 % of organisations agree that their rewards programs consider the multiple generations in the workforce. There is a realisation amongst many, particularly younger generations, that money is fleeting and does not last forever- in turn employees are leaning more towards experiential rewards such as incentive travel.

There are many employees that claim that they would prefer to receive cash as an incentive over a non cash option. Whilst this may be the case (I mean who would ever say no to more money?), the benefit that a business hopes to achieve from a cash reward may often be lost. The idea of a reward is that an employee feels appreciated for their hard work, the cash is intended to be used on something that will create a positive long lasting memory. In reality, monetary reward is often lost in routine expenditures. In fact, research has found that less than 20% of cash bonuses are spent on rewards, the other 80% of the cash is spent on bills and household items. I don’t think I have ever heard anyone look at an old photo of their kids and say “Oh look at those lovely school uniforms, it was that brilliant company that helped me to buy those”.

Whilst experiential incentives such as incentive travel may not be the first thought that jumps to the mind of all employees, isn’t it said that the best present to receive is one that you would not buy for yourself?

There are many benefits of incentive travel, but one of the strongest benefits it has over cash incentives is that it provides long lasting memories, builds relationships and broadens horizons, which are all things that are very difficult to remove from a person. These benefits go a long way in  supporting the findings of research carried out by The Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) which states that  99% of incentive travel programs are very effective in achieving important long term objectives.

This is not to say that cash incentives do not have their place within the reward environment, in fact we should give employees the flexibility of choice, creating different levels of rewards that can be attained through continuous efforts.

If you are thinking of planning an incentive trip, why not use our incentive travel checklist to ensure that you haven't missed any of the operational essentials.

Ami Dorkings

By Ami Dorkings

Ami started her career in events in 2013 after returning to the UK after a year of travelling. Ami works within the incentives team and loves to explore new venues and locationsMore articles by Ami Dorkings