Want to give a “thank you” gift to staff? Forget cash! Wine and dine them instead, study reveals

Organisations that provide staff with a personalised “thank you” gift rather than cash and gift cards are more likely to achieve “excellent” value for money, according to the latest study from the O.C. Tanner Institute. While cash is the most commonly used staff gift, Global HR leaders don’t see it as being that effective at adding value. Instead, personalised gifts such as a meal out, a treat or a symbolic award deliver the greatest value for money.

The O.C. Tanner Institute’s ‘Recognition in the Workplace’ study involved an online survey of 1,083 HR decision makers from 12 countries, including 100 UK HR professionals. The study investigates how organisations are rewarding staff and which ‘recognition solutions’ are proving the most successful.


“It’s all very well giving out awards to show how much staff are appreciated, however if the choice of award is doing little to engage and motivate the recipient, the company’s recognition programme is falling short”, says Ian Feaver, European Director of O.C. Tanner. “This latest study expands our understanding of which staff awards deliver the greatest impact, thereby helping organisations to be smarter with their choice of recognition solutions.”


The results are illuminating, highlighting that HR leaders perceive cash gifts to be the LEAST effective option when recognising staff for ‘above and beyond’ performance. In fact, just 46% of HR leaders believe a cash gift provides “excellent” value for money when recognising a staff member who has exceeded expectations. The results also reveal that cash is one of the most ineffective gift choices when recognising staff for ‘years of service’ and ‘ongoing effort’.

Organisations also need to reconsider providing staff with retail gift cards, impersonal gifts of the employer’s choice and paid trips when recognising staff for ‘above and beyond’ performance. No more than half of survey respondents regard these awards as providing “excellent” value for money.

In sharp contrast, providing gifts which have a ‘personal touch’, such as symbolic awards, treats or a meal out, are seen as most effective at adding value, scoring the highest ‘value for money’ ratings across all three areas of appreciation: ‘above and beyond performance’, ‘ongoing effort’ and ‘years of service’. In fact, nearly three quarters (72%) of HR leaders perceive a personalised award as delivering “excellent” value for money when it’s rewarding ‘years of service’.

Feaver adds,


“Considering cash is the most common staff gift, it’s worryingly ineffective at making staff feel appreciated. It’s clear that providing gifts that have a personal touch, be it a personalised item of jewellery or a meal at a local restaurant, deliver the greatest results.  So organisations need to rethink their use of cash, retail cards and other impersonal gifts and take a fresh look at which tokens of appreciation can foster the best workplace culture.”

Author: editorialassistant

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