Unveiling the Pitfalls of Traditional Employee Incentive Programs

Christopher Carson
February 29th, 2024
5 min read

Traditional employee motivation strategies, including gift cards, points programs, and marketplaces, have been staples in organizational incentive systems since the early 2000’s. These methods, designed to inspire and engage, often fall short of their objectives, bringing unintended financial consequences for employees and negatively influencing organizational dynamics. 

This article explores the limitations of traditional incentive programs, detailing their potential risks and negative effects on organizational engagement strategies. It also introduces how Tenure’s platform is designed to foster financial wellness by prioritizing savings over spending, offering a alternative approach to motivating and engaging employees.

The Limitations of Traditional Incentive Programs

Current reward and recognition platforms come with limitations that may inadvertently undermine an organization's engagement strategy, potentially leading to costly long-term consequences.

Immediate Gratification vs. Long-term Well-being

Traditional rewards systems are built on the principle of immediate gratification, offering gift cards and marketplace points that encourage impulse purchases. This short-term approach often overlooks the employee's long-term financial health and well-being. Tenure’s approach is to take those rewards and direct it towards long-term financial health and well-being. Instead of encouraging them to redeem their points or use a gift card, they are using their money towards savings towards something meaningful and important to them. 

Did you know?

61% of consumers spend more than a gift card’s value when redeeming, for an average of $31.75 more than the card’s value. 47% of people reported having unused gift cards, representing a significant underutilization of this incentive method.1

Psychological Impacts and Financial Stress

The focus on spending-based rewards often initiates a cycle of consumption that may not support an employee's financial stability, possibly elevating stress and anxiety due to the fleeting nature of such rewards. This short-lived satisfaction from receiving a reward can soon be eclipsed by the lasting effects of insufficient savings. Moreover, while these programs offer the means to acquire goods or services, they fall short in educating employees about the principles of saving and financial wellness. The abstraction of rewards into points or gift cards, rather than tangible cash, obscures the value of saving, limiting the opportunity for employees to engage with and understand their financial health fully.2

Tenure offers employers a rewards and recognition platform that delivers hyper-personalized incentives alongside financial well-being, thereby seeking to boost employee productivity and mental health. This approach can lead to a more engaged and healthier workforce by aligning personal achievements with financial stability.

Lack of Personalization

Conventional rewards systems, with their one-size-fits-all approach, overlook the diverse preferences and needs of employees, undermining the perceived value and motivational power of the incentives offered.3 With Tenure, it allows employees to define their own rewards introducing a level of autonomy that significantly enhances the impact of these incentives. This personalized approach not only increases motivation but also ensures that rewards are genuinely valued by employees, as they can choose rewards that truly resonate with them, rather than being limited to options available in a company marketplace or through branded gift cards.

Tenure: A Shift in Employee Rewards

Tenure seeks to change the way rewards and recognition platforms work. Our model is to help minimize the financial strains on employees, while creating a deeper connection between employers and employees. This shift in culture allows employees to feel valued and part of the successes of the company. 

Promoting Financial Wellness

Unlike traditional models, Tenure emphasizes a "cash to save" approach, allowing employees to allocate rewards towards meaningful personal goals, such as saving for retirement or a personal project. This method not only teaches valuable financial planning skills but also supports long-term financial wellness.

Learn more about The Power of Financial Stability in Boosting Employee Productivity

Enhancing Intrinsic Motivation

By enabling employees to set and achieve their personalized saving goals, Tenure taps into intrinsic motivation, fostering a deeper sense of satisfaction and engagement. This personal connection to the rewards significantly enhances their motivational impact.

Learn more about the science behind Tenure reward model

Positive Organizational Dynamics

Tenure's approach contributes to a healthier organizational culture by promoting financial responsibility and well-being. It shifts the focus from short-term rewards to long-term benefits, aligning employee incentives with sustainable personal and organizational growth.

By emphasizing a culture of savings over spending, Tenure offers a unique solution that not only recognizes individual achievements but also contributes to the financial prudence and well-being of employees.

Encouraging Responsible Financial Behaviour

Tenure's approach aligns with the broader goal of fostering financial responsibility among employees. Through personalized and meaningful rewards, the platform encourages individuals to focus on savings, contributing to a more financially secure and responsible workforce. Introducing financial wellness rewards programs such as Tenure in your workplace empowers employees, giving them greater control over their finances and enhancing their financial, mental, and physical well-being. Such initiatives contribute to increased productivity and higher employee engagement.4

While traditional employee incentive programs like gift cards, points, and marketplaces have been widely adopted, it is crucial to recognize their inherent disadvantages. These programs not only lack the personal touch necessary for effective motivation but also, in some instances, may lead to unintended financial consequences for employees. Forward-thinking organizations must reevaluate their incentive strategies, considering more personalized and thoughtful approaches that not only recognize employee achievements but also contribute positively to their financial well-being.

Article References:

  1. Gift Card Statistics (2023): Market Size & Consumer Trends. (2023, December 4). Retrieved from Capital One Shopping website: https://capitaloneshopping.com/research/gift-card-statistics/ 
  2. Utomi, T. (2024, January 17). Why Your Employees’ Money Worries Matter. Retrieved March 20, 2024, from HRPA website: https://www.hrpa.ca/hr-insights/why-your-employees-money-worries-matter/ 
  3. REBA. (2021, September 24). Why offering a choice of rewards is the best way to say “thank you.” Retrieved from reba.global website: https://reba.global/resource/why-offering-a-choice-of-rewards-is-the-best-way-to-say-thank-you.html 
  4. Canada, F. C. A. of. (2019, January 15). Why your employees’ financial well-being matters. Retrieved from www.canada.ca website: https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/financial-wellness-work/why.html 
Christopher Carson
COO, Tenure