Recognition and incentives

We’re examining the motivations and drivers of individuals working in financial services to help firms build healthy cultures.

Financial and non-financial incentives motivate employees to act in certain ways. How an organisation incentivises its staff will drive behaviour and shape its culture. Increasing awareness of different types of incentives, beyond just the financial, enables firms to use the most appropriate forms of reward to build a healthy culture.

We are interested in exploring 2 main questions:

  • What motivates employees in the workplace?
  • How might firms use these motivators to drive healthy, sustainable cultures?   

Through a range of activities, we are exploring a variety of perspectives to understand different methods of motivation and how they can be used to promote positive behaviours. We aim for these insights to promote thought leadership and generate action which lead to healthier cultures for financial services firms and their stakeholders.

Why focus on recognition and non-financial incentives?

Historically, firms have relied on monetary incentives to motivate employees. However, a growing body of research suggests that financial factors are not the only, or even the most important, motivator of behaviour. Studies suggest that positive recognition and other non-financial motivators can also play a significant role in shaping behaviours. It is therefore no longer enough to rely on traditional incentives and levers to create a healthy or engaged culture.

Motivation theory

Theories of motivation can help us understand the psychological needs that drive behaviour. Richard M Ryan and Edward L Deci of Rochester University established Self-Determination Theory which links motivation, personality and fulfilment. This theory suggests that people are fulfilled when they can make choices and manage their own life. The theory addresses 3 universal and innate needs: competence, relatedness and autonomy. Experiments by Ryan and Deci have shown that tasks focused on intrinsic goals, such as personal growth rather than extrinsic goals, such as rewards, can lead to deeper engagement and higher persistence in activities.

Webinar: Transforming culture through employee motivation and recognition

Our webinar on transforming culture through employee motivation and recognition features a panel of experts discussing what really motivates employees, and how non-financial incentives can be leveraged within organisations to help drive culture change. Our panellists also shared their thoughts on how recognition can be simple and creative and how schemes can be tailored to be most effective. Other areas of conversation included how experimentation can be an important learning tool for culture change, and the importance of regular conversation with employees.

Video: CultureSprint on recognition and incentives

Our third CultureSprint explores creating healthy cultures through incentives and recognition. Executive leaders from various firms, academics and multi-disciplinary experts came together to explore the non-financial aspect of incentives, including the increasingly important role of recognition in the workplace. We wanted the teams to collectively identify, explore and design testable solutions to help get to the heart of employee motivation.