When money can (or can’t) buy workplace happiness

Money can’t buy happiness—employees know that (or, at least, have heard it). But they also know landlords don’t take company awards in lieu of rent, and grocers won’t accept the fact that you’ve been promoted as payment for food. Money matters. But how much? And when? According to a survey conducted by BambooHR of more than 1,000 business professionals, most people prefer money to titles and other types of recognition.

Money and titles

Money talks, titles don’t. At least, that’s how most employees feel. And the raise doesn’t even have to be that much to matter more than a promotion: 82 percent of employees said they only needed a 3 percent raise to accept money over a title promotion.

Does this mean you should invest in a game show money-blowing booth to keep employees around? Not at all. While most prefer money, one in five prefer the title change. And in past studies we’ve found money isn’t the top reason people leave their companies—it comes in 3rd behind work/life balance and advancement. But this more recent study reveals that advancement has a more complicated definition than previously thought. Specifically, employees say advancement means:

1. More money

2. A higher title

3. Expanded responsibility

So, offering employees “advancement” in title or responsibility without increasing their pay might not be the best plan. Employees want compensation for their increased ability. They also care about being recognized for their hard work (and they think money does a good job of that).

For more information on how to successfully reward and recognize your employees now, watch the on-demand webinar, “How to Build Productivity through Reward and Recognition.”

Money and recognition

Most employees—70 percent—prefer a cash bonus over recognition through a company-wide email from a company executive. That being said, to the 30 percent of employees who prefer the public recognition, it’s pretty valuable:

· 3 out of 4 said a bonus would have to be at least $2000 for them to accept it over a company-wide recognition email

· 1 out of 5 said a bonus would have to be at least $5000 for them to accept it over a company-wide recognition email

If you decide to give money as recognition, you may also want to consider how you give it to employees. 70 percent would prefer a gift card while 30 percent would opt for cash added to their next paycheck—not totally surprising considering the paycheck cash is taxed.

If cash isn’t an option, get an executive in on the recognition—after all, if 30 percent of employees prefer an email recognizing their contributions, there’s clearly value in it. Employees also say they’d much rather be recognized by an executive in a company-wide email than receive a prestigious industry award.

For the full summary of our Reward and Recognition research, go here.