Maritz Unveils Six Distinct Employee Types Based on Reward Preferences

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Poll Shows that One Size Does Not Fit All in Employee Recognition Programs

A recent Maritz® Poll found that 55 percent of employees “agree” or “strongly agree” that the quality of their company's recognition efforts impacts their job performance. At the same time, only 43 percent of employees “agree” or “strongly agree” that they are consistently recognized for their performance in ways that are meaningful to them.

To help companies better understand the impact of offering the right and wrong recognition rewards to employees, Maritz Incentives and Maritz Research researched studied employee reward preferences and uncovered six distinctly different employee types. Although each company has different proportions of each employee type, a survey of the general population found that*:

22% are Award Seekers        

17% are Freedom Yearners    

20% are Nesters            

16% are Praise Cravers

19% are Bottom Liners        

8% are Upward Movers

  • Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.

The profiles demonstrate how one type of reward can work well for some employees, but not for others. For example, a simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way with Praise Cravers, but wouldn’t be appreciated by Bottom Liners. As another example, the profiles illustrate how offering flexible scheduling would keep a Freedom Yearner more committed to the company than a cash bonus.

Employee Types

Award Seekers

Award Seekers want rewards that have both monetary and trophy value. They are far less motivated by rewards that take time away from their normal routines, such as the opportunity to mentor other employees, work with people outside their own area, or take on challenging new projects.

Reward Preferences: Gift cards and travel awards

Employee Traits: Younger than other segments; 58% female


Nesters are turned off by rewards that take them away from home. Travel awards and the opportunity to attend conferences were least appealing to this group. Achieving a good balance between work and personal life is especially important. They want to go home after a hard day of work and enjoy their families, rather than going on trips that take them away from their loved ones.

Reward Preferences: Days off, flexible scheduling and dinners out with their families Employee Traits: Older than other segments; 54% male

Bottom Liners

Bottom Liners are less concerned about trophy or award value and are really only concerned about the monetary value of rewards. They place very little emphasis on receiving verbal or written praise. It is likely that, if a company did not attach something of monetary value in their recognition efforts, their efforts would be considered ineffective with this group.

Reward Preferences: Cash bonuses or cumulative award points programs that they can accumulate to obtain rewards. Employee Traits: Typically have high job dissatisfaction; 59% female

Freedom Yearners

Freedom Yearners are less materially motivated, with limited interest in things like gift cards and cumulative award programs. They are best rewarded by giving them flexibility. Freedom Yearners are often people that have already achieved a certain level of financial success and security and are now more focused on doing work that is personally meaningful without an excessive amount of management interference.

Reward Preferences: Flexible hours, freedom to choose how to achieve their goals, ability to choose interesting and challenging projects and opportunities to attend conferences. Employee Traits: 55% at least 45 years old; 55% male; had the highest proportion of people making over $100,000 (22%)

Praise Cravers

These individuals value any type of praise more than any other segment. They have a greater desire to have their work acknowledged, with or without an accompanying award of monetary value. This group also has the least interest in days off or flexible scheduling, suggesting that they receive a great deal of personal satisfaction from a job well done that is recognized accordingly. Among this group, simple stated recognition of good work will have much greater impact than with most others.

Reward Preferences: Verbal, written or formal praise from managers or informal praise by peers. Employee Traits: Desire a higher degree of affirmation; 54% male

Upward Movers

Upward Movers are the most satisfied and committed among all of the employee segments. They are the least interested in cash bonuses, days off and flexible scheduling. These people love their jobs and want to move up in the company.

Reward Preferences: Status awards, meals with company management or opportunities to mentor other employees and work with people outside their own areas. Employee Traits: 68% male; 42% 34 years old or younger; 66% manage direct reports; 30% executives; 20% never worked anywhere else prior joining their present companies

Editor's Note: Rick Garlick, Maritz Research’s director of consulting and strategic implementation, is available for interviews regarding the study’s findings and other employee recognition topics.    

About Maritz Inc.

Founded in 1894, St. Louis-based Maritz Inc. helps companies achieve their full potential through understanding, developing, and motivating employees, channel partners, and customers. Maritz has key offices in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Spain and ranked No. 227 on the most recent Forbes list of 500 Largest Private Companies. For more information, visit or contact us at 1-877-4MARITZ.

This online Maritz Poll survey – conducted in October 2006 – featured responses from 1,003 randomly selected full-time employed adult participants (501 male, 502 female) ages 18 – 65+ from throughout the United States.

This press release was distributed through eMediawire by Human Resources Marketer (HR Marketer: on behalf of the company listed above.


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Paula Godar
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