Most employers worry about doing enough to reward their employees. They take time to research salaries and bonus schemes, share ownership as well as gym memberships and a host of other perks. But which schemes are really worth spending money on?
Obviously, the point of any reward scheme is to try to attract and retain your best people. But if you are simply driving up overheads without any effect on staff satisfaction and turnover, its time to review your approach.
Perks of the job
The first factor to bear in mind is that individuals differ hugely in their underlying psychological drivers. All employees will approach their jobs (and lives) with a “What’s in it for me” (WIIFM) mindset. Each person figures out what they will get out of a decision to work for a particular employer and makes trade offs. For some it may be financial, others may value flexibility, a shorter commute or family friendly hours. These form the “psychological contract” that the individual forges with their employer.
The psychological contract
Each factor in the psychological contract is very important, and if one is out of balance an employee may become dissatisfied, demotivated or disengaged. That’s why employers need to take time to look at the whole picture. And be aware that no amount of reward schemes can fix a broken psychological contract if the underlying reason stems from dysfunctional management or toxic workplace culture.
Getting reward right
We recommend that any reward programme is driven by your employees. Set up an employee forum to gather suggestions and get people involved.
Whatever the size of your organisation, the ideas below are low or zero cost and are great for building a positive culture and teamworking environment. What’s more, happy employees are up to 10% more productive, a recent study shows, and there’s evidence they also take fewer sick days, an added bonus.
- Long service awards. People who have stayed with you for a long period of time have showed their loyalty through good times and bad. Consider making it a big deal and marking this with a ceremony, a speech from the boss, a small token of appreciation or an iconic trophy. Be creative with this – we’ve seen businesses create really cute awards that sum up some aspect of their business. Employees love these and keep them on their desks.
- Birthdays and anniversaries. Likewise, make these special. Perhaps employees could have an extra day’s leave on their birthday or a “big” birthday. Even if this isn’t possible, always mark birthdays with cakes, sweets, lunch or after work drinks. Develop your own traditions and over time these will become part of your company culture. Use Air’s beautiful company calendar to keep track of all these important dates and never miss a birthday again.
- Local voucher scheme. Do your bit for the local economy and encourage local businesses such as cafes, bars, restaurants or dry cleaners to offer vouchers to your staff. So many people now are looking to support local independent retailers this can be a win/win for everyone.
- Community and voluntary action. We recently ran a forum in our business to find out what employees really wanted to do and the feedback was overwhelmingly that they wanted to support local charities and community projects. Charities and local councils are desperate for the help and as the employer all you need to do is give your employees the flexibility to take the time off and/or a small outlay for any equipment required. These projects need management to lead by example, so be prepared to get stuck in yourself even if it’s a weekend activity. The benefits you’ll reap are really well worth the effort. Use Air’s company calendar to let employees know about upcoming events and keep track of who is taking part.
- Bring a dish lunch. Food related events always go down well! If you have a culturally diverse workforce this can be especially interesting, encourage people to bring one of their favourite dishes. Alternatively have a theme each month, or spread the load among different teams to take turns hosting.
- Exploit any local business organisations. Your local Business Improvement District (BID) or Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a variety of different events for employees to get involved in. In one organisation we worked in, the BID set up a business choir, it was fantastic to see the talent of those performing in the Christmas concert.
- Dress down/fancy dress day. One of the simplest and easiest ones to implement especially at Halloween or Christmas. You can give prizes, raise money for charity, and also be sure to take some funny pictures for social media!
- Talent competition. This can be kept really simple or taken a step further by hiring a venue and putting on a good spread. Everyone is good at something – and it’s a great way of breaking down barriers between staff and management and different teams.
- Open business day. Do you share offices with other businesses in a large office park, business district or are you located in close proximity with other businesses? Particularly if you work in an industry cluster this can be incredibly useful. Throw open your doors and run open knowledge sharing forums on a hot topic or business insight. This gives your employees a chance to shine and build confidence in their presentation skills, as well as forging valuable external contacts.
- Sports teams. Encourage talented sportspeople to form a team and enter a local league. This is a great way of building relationships on the sports field across organizational silos that result in better business co-operation.
- Yoga and meditation. Not everyone is into team sports. It’s really easy to find a local yoga or meditation practitioner to come into your workplace and run short lunch time sessions. All you need is a quiet room and the benefit is that people don’t need special clothing or equipment. Another boost for employee well being without getting hot and sweaty!
Whatever you decide to do make sure its employee owned and driven, and that you support it generously with your personal time and financial resources. It’s important to review any initiative from time to time, if interest wanes then move on to something new.
For more great ideas on building company culture, HR and management, check out Air’s blog here.