A report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, shows more employees would value a free iPod, digital camera or similar technology gift (80%) from their boss than would appreciate being ‘fast-tracked' for promotion (67%).
The poll of 950 workers asked individuals to rate how highly they would value (value highly, value moderately or do not value) a series of different rewards for good performance in the absence of a pay rise. Just 6% of respondents said they would not appreciate a small, low-cost reward.
Cash bonuses, gift vouchers and extra annual leave scored highest - with 90%, 89% and 89% of respondents saying they would value these, respectively. Extra time off to do charity work was the least favoured non-work reward with just under half valuing this option (49%).
While being fast-tracked for promotion scored below many of the options given, an encouraging two-thirds (67%) of workers would still appreciate this. Additionally, more than one in three (37%) would value a promotion without a pay rise, also known as a ‘no-motion'.
And, at the end of a tough year, the majority of workers would still appreciate a work-sponsored drink or lunch with their colleagues (62%).
Jon Terry, partner and head of reward at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said: "The way UK businesses allocate the millions of pounds they spend on rewarding their employees is largely discretionary and, while not everyone would opt for an iPod over getting closer to promotion, the employers that get the best value from their spend are those that align reward with individuals' wants and needs and the behaviours they want to encourage.
"With bonus pools shrinking and many workers' wages frozen, employers need to find lower-cost, tailored ways of showing their staff that good performance is always appreciated. One-off gifts in reward for particularly successful projects work very well if a pay rise is not an option, particularly if employers are flexible in terms of what they offer the recipients.
"Rewarding employees in the right way requires careful workforce segmentation and quality management information as a big part of this relies on knowing exactly who does what role and who the top performers are.
"Many workers are showing admirable focus on the long-term in their willingness to accept more responsibilities without a pay rise - and while covering their work may be challenging, giving employees time to gain different experiences and access to internal training is mutually beneficial and clearly valued by employees."
What do employees want?
£100 cash bonus for work on a particular project - 90%
£100 gift vouchers to a shop of your choice - 89%
A couple of days of extra annual leave - 89%
Technology gift of individual's choice with a value of approximately £100 (e.g. iPod Nano, digital camera) - 80%
Lunch with family or friends paid for by employer - 68%
Being 'fast-tracked' for promotion - 67%
Lunch or drinks with colleagues paid for by employer - 62%
Access to internal training courses - 62%
Tickets to leisure or sporting activities for use with family/ friends - 61%
Option to gain experience in a different department within the organisation - 58%
Option to gain experience in a similar department in a different organisation - 52%
A couple of extra days off to do charity/ volunteer work - 49%
A promotion without pay rise - 37%