Finding the right way to motivate workers can sometimes be the difference between the success of a business or its failure.
The line between the two is especially thin at the moment given the tough economic climate and never before has making sure your staff are keen to do their best for you been more important.
However, the traditional method of cash incentives seems to be not as effective as it used to be with employees when it comes to driving them to go the extra mile.
According to recent research by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM), only 13 per cent of 1,000 people surveyed actually said that this was the best way to motivate them – suggesting that cash is certainly no longer king.
However, despite this, annual bonuses and short-term monetary incentives are still the normal tactics that many businesses employ – with 94 per cent of firms taking part in a survey by Towers Watson claiming that this was how the vast majority preferred to reward their staff and encourage them to work harder.
With the findings of the two studies clearly at loggerheads, could it be that this has partly contributed to the tough economic climate and underperformance of many companies that we've witnessed over the last few years?
So what are the other options? As a worker, what would you prefer?
Consider flexible working
The benefits of using flexible working as a carrot are actually two-fold.
Deloitte's Upwardly Mobile report recently highlighted the level of value employees are starting to place on this way of conducting business, with the offer of being able to strike a better work/life balance ranking higher than it has ever done on the list of priorities for many employees.
This was supported by research carried out by LinkedIn, which found that when male staff members were asked to define "having it all", 79 per cent said having a strong loving marriage. When asked what they would class as "making it", 86 per cent of respondents said "having children".
These two findings both draw the same conclusions – that workers would like to spend more time at home with their loved ones than at work. Does this apply to you? If not, what other alternatives to cash would you like to see being offered as an incentive?
Businesses are now finding it so much easier to create a working environment away from the office, thanks to a combination of cloud computing and conference call technology. As a result, employees can expect much less disruption to their work when it comes to basing themselves from home.
So workers now have to ask themselves the question of whether flexible working is more valuable to them than cash.
Perhaps the solution is a compromise, where it does not have to be applied universally across a workforce – with some people choosing to go for the work from home option while others could opt for financial incentives? By doing it this way, there's a real possibility that everyone can be motivated in a way that is tailored to them.
With the modern workforce starting to shift focus to bettering your work environment, this approach could open up a new way of thinking when it comes to getting the best out of a business.