Study: Lack of Recognition a Top Source of Unhappiness on the Job for Canadian Employees

Canadian employee rewards and incentive programs feel the pinch of economic uncertainty in 2015 despite importance to business success and employee engagement

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Oct. 20, 2015) - Results from the 2015 Canadian Incentive and Rewards Trends Study released today by Berkeley Payment Solutions suggest that Canadian corporate employee rewards and incentive programs are feeling the effects of economic uncertainty in 2015, despite being ranked as important to business success and employee satisfaction. According to the report, the number of Canadian businesses that use rewards to motivate employees dropped to 61% in 2015, down from 69% in 2014; while more than half (55%) of Canadians surveyed say their employer doesn't offer rewards to recognize their performance.

The 2015 Canadian Incentive and Rewards Trends Study is in its sixth year, and now features research from 500 full-time Canadian employees and 1,125 HR professionals from across Canada. The new research reveals:

  • The main reason why Canadian employees are unhappy at work is a "lack of recognition" - beating out a "bad boss"; "dissatisfying pay"; a "toxic corporate culture"; "long hours"; and a "killer commute".
  • 60% of Canadians say their employer's rewards program does not motivate them to do a good job; with 70% saying they have never received a reward from an employer in recognition of a job well done.
  • 66% of Canadians who say their company's employee incentive programs have declined over the past year cite the main reason as fewer rewards being offered.
  • 89% of Canadians appreciate when they get a reward for doing their job well; while less than 1% say that workplace recognition is irrelevant for them.

2015 challenges for corporate employee rewards programs

The 2015 Canadian Incentive and Rewards Trends Study shows Canadian organizations consider employee rewards as integral to their business success, but economic uncertainty and program management and measurement are obstacles in implementing employee rewards programs in 2015.

  • One-third (33%) of Canadian HR managers anticipate program cuts this year, even though 90% agree employee engagement is a management priority for 2015, and 82% say their corporate reward or incentive program is important to the success of their overall business.
  • 52% of those Canadian organizations that don't have employee reward programs say it's because they have no budget (up from 43% in 2014), while others say programs are difficult to manage (16%) or hard to measure for program success (13.8%); 10% haven't even considered such programs.

Program administration frustrations run high

More than half (55%) of those surveyed who manage corporate employee rewards are so frustrated with their organization's program that they feel "like pulling their hair out".

  • The top three challenges are difficulty in measuring program success (23%); shrinking budgets (10%); and, employee dissatisfaction with the program (8%).
  • Over half (54%) say they measure program success based on direct participant satisfaction and feedback.
  • 70% say choosing a reward or incentive that has mass appeal and can motivate employees across different generations is difficult.
  • 44% say the most difficult generation to pick an appropriate reward for is Millennials.

The Incentive Gap widens in 2015

The Incentive Gap, identified in last year's study, describes the inconsistency between the incentives companies use, and the incentives employees actually want. The results from the 2015 study find:

  • More than half (57%) of Canadian organizations offer company-branded merchandise in 2015 (vs 55% in 2014), despite ranking gift cards as the incentive to be most valued by the recipient.
  • Prepaid cards are preferred by those polled two times more than store gift cards and 16 times more than company-branded merchandise.

Canadians rank prepaid cards #1

According to Canadian HR managers surveyed, prepaid MasterCard and Visa cards are the easiest to administer and the most cost-effective, while Canadian employees rank these cards as the incentive they prefer to receive for a job well done.

  • 38% of Canadian HR managers say Visa and MasterCard prepaid cards deliver the highest return on investment, while 56% say prepaid best meets the needs of the multi-generational workforce.
  • Almost half (47%) believe prepaid MasterCard and Visa cards are the best reward to motivate employees.

"During times of economic uncertainty, reductions made to employee rewards and incentives programs might look good on the books but the ramifications of these cuts can do more harm than good in the long run," says Jonathon Hamburg, CEO of Berkeley Payment Solutions. "Prepaid MasterCard and Visa card solutions can help Canadian organizations of all sizes better manage their employee rewards budgets and overcome program administration challenges, to deliver flexible, cost-effective rewards that will motivate employees and benefit Canadian businesses in the long term."

Additional industry highlights from the 2015 Canadian Incentive and Rewards Trends Study include:

  • Employee incentive and rewards programs are not just for big businesses in Canada, with 55 per cent of respondents indicating they work for an organization with less than 500 employees.
  • Organizations from a wide spectrum of industries in Canada use employee incentives and rewards, with 61 per cent of those polled indicating they are in the private sector.
  • Three out of four Canadians say doing what they like is what makes them the happiest at work.

About the 2015 Canadian Incentive and Rewards Trends Study

Now in its sixth year, the Canadian Incentive and Rewards Trends Study is the only research of its kind. Berkeley Payment Solutions conducts the research to gain insights into the views and practices of Canadian companies with respect to their corporate incentive programs. This year's survey polled 500 Canadian full-time employees from across the country, in addition to 1,100 Canadian HR professionals from companies of all sizes and across numerous sectors including financial services, consumer packaged goods, telecommunications, retail, healthcare, media and advertising, manufacturing, and government. Survey results are accurate +/- 3%, 95% of the time. For the complete 2015 Canadian Incentive and Rewards Trends Study results, see:

About Berkeley Payment Solutions

Berkeley Payment Solutions delivers MasterCard and Visa prepaid card programs for corporations, governments, and financial institutions. Collaborating with more than 700 business-to-business and business-to-consumer clients, channel partners, non-profit organizations and marketing agencies in Canada and the United States, Berkeley creates custom prepaid incentive and payment solutions that can be used for a wide variety of programs. For more information, visit

Contact Information:

Media Contact
Lizanne McReelis
Echo PR (for Berkeley Payment Solutions)