Employee Engagement: Impact of Choice

May 4, 2018 Deb Broderson

The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice. 

  – Mary Ann Evans

Let me begin by saying this is one of the most powerful quotes I have ever been so fortunate to come across. Indeed, as the great author George Eliot, otherwise known as Mary Ann Evans, once alluded to- it is our choices that help us grow and it is our choices that define our existence each day.

People need the ability to make choices.  

This basic reasoning applies to your employees and should be taken seriously.  In the realm of Employee Engagement, this is especially crucial. Employees are more likely to be motivated to reach goals when they have the ability to choose their rewards, whether they be monetary or not.

According to a study carried out by the University of Chicago titled, The Impact of Choice, two groups were given incentives in order to motivate them to carry out a specific task. The first group was told that they would be rewarded in just cash, whereas the second would be rewarded in a variety of non-monetary incentives with complete choice of products.

What did researchers conclude?

Those who were rewarded in non-cash incentives with a variety of choices yielded more than twice the performance improvement compared to the cash incentive group. Only 14.6 percent of participants in the cash incentives group showed improvement in task productivity than those not rewarded at all. On the other hand, a staggering 38.6 percent of non-cash incentive participants showed improvement in task productivity, comparably. The same can be applied to the science of employee engagement.

The bottom line is: be fair and consistent-offer choices to enhance employee engagement.

With that said, there can certainly be a down side if recognition and rewards are selected solely by management with only one or two incentives available, perhaps not even taking employee motivators into account. An appropriate boundary to put in place here would be to implement a rewards program with a plethora of choices, measured objectively by a point system upon reaching certain goals; this would keep the playing field level.


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About the Author

Deb Broderson

Deb Broderson comes to Perks with 30 years of diverse experience leading channel marketing, marketing operations and program management teams within the technology industry. Deb has provided strategic direction to Fortune 500 clients, developed and executed global, multi-channel, go-to-market strategies and created worldwide field marketing organizations. Deb has worked on both the agency and client-side of the business, providing a well-rounded perspective to client challenges. Deb was honored as one of the Top 50 Channel Chiefs in North America by CRN.

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