Attractiveness of non-financial rewards for prospective knowledge workers. An experimental investigation

Publication Date07 Apr 2015
AuthorAnton Schlechter,Nicola Claire Thompson,Mark Bussin
SubjectHR & organizational behaviour,Industrial/labour relations
Attractiveness of non-financial
rewards for prospective
knowledge workers
An experimental investigation
Anton Schlechter
School of Management Studies, University of Cape Town,
Cape Town, South Africa
Nicola Claire Thompson
Faculty of Commerce, University of Cape Town,
Cape Town, South Africa, and
Mark Bussin
Department of Industrial Psychology and Human Resource Management,
University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate if the presence of non-financial rewards
(specifically work-life balance, learning, and career advancement) were able to influence the perceived
attractiveness of a job offering. A secondary objective was to establish if there were demographic
differences, specifically, gender, race, and age differences in the manner in which these non-financial
rewards influenced the perceived attractiveness of a job offer.
Design/methodology/approach A quantitative research approach was followed and a 23
full-factorial experimental design utilised. Data were collected with two questionnaires via convenience
(non-probability) sampling. The first job attraction questionnaire assessed the perceived level of
attractiveness to one of eight randomly assigned experimental conditions (stimuli) that were expressed
as eight fictitious job advertisements. Employees who responded were from various industries
(n¼180). The data collected were analysed using descriptive statistics and a full-factorial ANOVA.
A second questionnaire was used to assess the perceived attractiveness of various elements of a typical
total rewards package. The validity and reliability of the second questionnaire was assessed using
Exploratory Factor Analysis utilising the Principal Axis Factoring extraction method, employing a
Direct Oblimin (i.e. Oblique) rotation, and calculating Cronbach αcoefficients, respectively. Descriptive
statistics were calculated for the composite factors or reward elements.
Findings The non-financial reward elements (work-life balance, learning, and career advancement)
were found to have statistically significant main effects on employeesperceived attractiveness of a job
offering. Gender was further found to also have a significant main effect, indicating that the presence of
non-financial rewards was more attractive in job offerings for women than for men.
Research limitations/implications The sample group was obtained by means of convenience
sampling and may not have been adequately representative of the target population.
Practical implications Organisations may benefit from these results by implementing and/or
emphasising non-financial rewards as part of a total rewards package when they attempt to attract or
recruit potential employees. Organisations that seek to attract a higher number of female employees
may benefit from the results by incorporating or further emphasising non-financial rewards as part of
a targeted job offer.
Employee Relations
Vol. 37 No. 3, 2015
pp. 274-295
©Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/ER-06-2014-0077
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
The authors acknowledge Professor Charlene Gerber for her guidance and assistance with the
research design of this study.
Originality/value Substantial research exists that has identified reward elements that are effective
in attraction strategies, but the authors are unaware of any literature where use was made of an
experimental design to empirically show that non-financial rewards effect/influence perceived job
attractiveness. The current study succeeded in identifying that the presence of non-financial rewards,
as part of a job advertisement led to significantly higher levels of job attractiveness in prospective
employees. Also, that there are gender differences in the extent to which the presence of non-financial
rewards effect perceived attractiveness of a job offer.
Keywords Recruitment, Retention, Human resource management, Talent attraction,
Non-financial rewards, Pay policies
Paper type Research paper
Globally organisations are competing for the same scarce human resources and more
specifically scarce talent. The world of work has increasingly become more global,
which has led to a progressively interdependent global economy. Globalisation and the
scarcity of talent are some of the influences that have driven the competitive markets
for qualified and talented employees (Hagel, 2012). The challenges that companies are
facing in the war for talent have had an effect on the retention of employees, specifically
given how employees are being attracted to organisations through more lucrative or
flexible positions elsewhere (Hagel, 2012).
Employee attraction and retention are factors that are encompassed as part of the
broader concept of talent management. While both factors are found to be vital in
aligning employee talent management with organisational strategies, they are different
constructs and have dissimilar underlying approaches (Mandhanya and Shah, 2010).
Talent attraction has been researched on the basis of the psychological contracts made
between employers and employees in terms of the way that employees are attracted to
an organisation (Kickul, 2001).
Potential problems may arise when an organisation makes specific outcome-based
promises in the form of, for example competitive wages, work-life balance, training,
and meaningfulwork, in exchange for employeestime and energy,skills, knowledge and
abilities (Kickul, 2001). A problem associated with this is the lack of delivery on the
organisations promises or perceived promisesto the employees (Kickul, 2001).Attraction
of employees therefore is inferred as being a prolific influence on not only talent
management as a whole, but alsothe psychological contracts established in the process.
Traditionally the financial elements in reward packages were paramount, while
non-financial reward elements, for example training and development, and flexi-time
have steadilyincreased in importance for employees. Pay or remuneration is the simplest
and easiest rewardelement to replicate, and for thisreason organisations are findingnew
ways of differentiating themselves from their market competitors (WorldatWork, 2003).
Focusing on offering more and a wider range of non-financial rewards is one such
strategy being employed by organisations to differentiate themselves and attract the
best talent.
The purpose of this research was to investigate the role of non-financial rewards in
talent attraction, specifically the attraction of knowledge workers.
The term knowledge worker was popularised by Peter Drucker in 1968 when he
described these workers as [] the man or woman who applies to productive wor k
ideas, concepts, and information rather than manual skill or brawn(Brinkley et al.,
2009, p. 10). Some of the positions of knowledge workers include doctors, engine ers,
lawyers, managers, sales representatives, teachers, and other skilled professionals.

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