Sales incentives ideas concept

How to get sales incentive ideas off the ground & make them unstoppable

This blog will take you through the key areas you have to hit to get your sales incentive ideas off the ground. We won’t bore you with another long list of possible incentive tools, because those are already out there if you need the inspiration.

This blog is about taking your good ideas and making them unstoppable.

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A great sales incentive idea is only the start

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. You put together a list of great sales incentive ideas. They’re creative, exciting, and you’re thrilled to present them to your managers.

Everyone on the team agrees they’re great, too. You’re all convinced they would increase sales, motivate sales teams, and everyone would have fun doing it.

But it never quite seems to get implemented. Your incentive ideas bounce around, they’re brought up when you’re under pressure to come up with a new idea. But it’s not what you could have won.

Maybe you see a form of it implemented, a watered-down version. But you never really see them brought to life in a way that maximises their potential.

We get it, we’ve been there. Just about everyone has.

You’re not alone on this one

Many companies run into this issue. Because every organisation has inertia. A resistance to changing processes that comes from the inherent need for a business to keep doing its daily tasks. And for that business to be efficient while those tasks are performed.

It’s not a reason to give up on your sales incentives ideas though. Incentives are a proven method for bringing enthusiasm and performance out of a sales team.

You just need to know how to build the bridge between the good idea you have today, and the scheme you want to see running tomorrow.

1. Do the research and canvas key stakeholders

Undertaking research

We don’t need to tell you to do the research and put a plan together. But you need to think about the scope of your research and who you talk to. Not enough people do the internal research that will make an idea easy to implement.

Your ideas need to accommodate the pain points of leadership and any teams affected by your incentive. If your sales incentives are likely to affect a department, you need a conversation with them before putting any grand plans to paper.

This is to:

  1. Minimise any extra difficulty to them
  2. Actually alleviate a paint point if possible

Combined, they make it more likely your ideas will gain traction, and reduce the likelihood of a surprise roadblock as you put an idea into action.

Make sure the managers have a voice

The most important person to speak to are the managers of your sales teams. You need their input at the start of your planning stage. Their needs, and their potential objections, are the ones most likely to be a killer roadblock when proposing your ideas. It’s best to answer those objections as soon as possible.

You don’t want a problem to pop-up later on that turns into a reason for leadership to pull the plug and re-focus attention to something else.

The planning process is also an opportunity to put the voice of sales staff into your incentive idea. Not only does hearing their concerns increase the chance they’ll buy into your idea, but you can ask them questions, getting a clear picture of what, in terms of rewards, feels like a good return on investment.

2. Be specific

Sales targets

Set out clear goals about what you want your sales incentive idea to achieve, and for who.

Too many incentive ideas promise to reward outcomes that are washy and broad. Lay out the specific behaviours that will turn into rewarding moments.

Be clear about who you’re trying to motivate, too. Do you need a fire lit under your top guns, the bulk of your staff just getting on with their work, or the low performers? The staff whose behaviour needs to change are the ones that need to be explicitly targeted by your incentive scheme.

Who you need to target will inform what you do to target them.

Focus your ideas on the moments you’re trying to generate and the people from whom you’re trying to draw a reaction.

3. Sell your sizzle

Steak

We don’t say this to be rude, but it’s a truth that bears confronting. While this is your project, it’s actually not really about you. It’s not about showing off how clever you are, or how hard you worked, or how great your idea is. It’s about the results, the difference your ideas can make to your company.

This is important to remember when you’re selling an idea internally. No matter how clever, creative and new your ideas are, you need to get your stakeholders invested. And that means selling the sizzle. Focus on communicating the outcomes, the motivation, the possibilities. Not processes.

Don’t dwell on the intricate details of a mechanism for your incentive ideas until you’re asked about them. Let the audience open that door themselves once they’re invested in the outcomes, the advantages are clear to them, and they want to know to achieve them.

This is an investment. Building enthusiasm for the sizzle now will help keep interest in the steak alive later. It’s the difference between a leadership figure asking: “what happened to that incentive idea you had? It sounded really good” and something that sounds complicated being set aside.

4. The right incentive rewards

The carrot works a lot better than the stick for motivating employees. Which means making sure you have the right carrots.

You need to put together a variety of rewards at different value points. Sticking to just one reward value, and just one reward type, will hamstring you.

This is for two reasons:

We’ll go into more details on scale later, but incentives that last more than a couple of months benefit from being broken into parts. That includes offering smaller rewards along the way, building up to the big one.

The need for variety should speak for itself. What moves the needle for one employee leaves another cold. If staff can’t get excited for their rewards, it’s harder for them to be invested in your sales incentive ideas.

5. Structuring goals for your sales incentive idea

How to structure sales incentive ideas

It would be difficult for anyone to give your company advice on how to structure your incentives without proper knowledge of your business.

Every company has their own pattern of quirks, details and difficulties that make one-size-fits-all structures difficult, and frankly a little inadvisable.

However, we can offer you some tenets that should underpin your sales incentive structure when you’re navigating your company’s own problems.

The structure of your sales incentive idea should be:

  • Specific – To teams, and the people in them. We’ll cover this in a little more depth later on.
  • Measurable – Transparency in your scheme matters, and transparency is easier when you focus on quantifiable elements. Rewarding for ideas that rely on more qualitative elements immediately opens you up to unconscious bias – you quite literally won’t even know you’re doing it. If everyone can see an obvious winner, by terms laid out clearly, it’s much less likely anyone can feel hard done by.
  • Fair – Your incentive needs to tread the line between not being unreasonably difficult, but not being so easy an employee would achieve it through their regular work or random chance. This is why it’s important to get which segment of your sales team that needs motivating clear.
  • Routine – Organise an incentive idea that’s checked in and updated at constant intervals, with regular feedback to the users and the scheme stakeholders. We’ll go into more detail on how you can make interaction over time easier further into the blog.

Demonstrating care for these areas, and accounting for them in your planning, dramatically increases the chance of success.

6. Give recognition a place

Thank you recognition note

Making sure to integrate employee recognition. As we’ve pointed out many times before, recognition is one of the most impactful things you can do to improve your business.

Your sales incentive idea shouldn’t be any different. By making sure you include recognition as a component of your scheme, you can credibly claim that your incentive idea will help your company improve:

  • Employee engagement
  • Loyalty
  • Motivation

These benefits compound with the benefits of generating more sales and revenue. Be sure to communicate these advantages and work them into your sales incentive ideas.

7. Keep user processes simple

Confusing blackboard

The mechanic that moves employees towards their reward needs to be simple for your sales staff.

We can look to one of our own sales incentive clients for good practice on this. They’re a UK-wide reseller that rewards their customers for loyalty with a sales incentive scheme.

To keep that scheme simple, the end-user has minimal involvement in the crucial processes. All they have to do is submit proof of their purchases through a purpose-built web portal.

Our own incentive system handles all the complicated parts about confirming sales and banking points. The user would never know it was happening; they just have to worry about what kind of reward they want for their efforts.

The focus should always be on providing the user with opportunity, not obligations. This keeps the positive sentiment towards your sales incentive idea high and engagement will follow.

8. Plan touch points

Incentive system on ipad

Plan ways to bring users back into the incentive scheme as often as you can without being obtrusive.

Getting something off the ground is a battle, but it’s just part one. Part two is keeping users interested once the launch buzz fades.

We tend to default to common and familiar behaviours, and falling out of the initial excitement of an incentive scheme launch is a problem that needs to be addressed by continuous communication.

We use automated systems that alleviate the need for scheme operators to constantly badger users to come back to a platform.

Instead, we act on user behaviour. Even if it’s the absence of user behaviour.

You will need to set out a plan to communicate with senior leadership too. To keep their engagement with the scheme up. Ideally, you’d offer them a chance to exert their expertise where appropriate to make adjustments that keep engagement high.

Try our dedicated incentives platform

Sales Incentives Platform

Our Engage incentive platform drives sales, brand engagement and loyalty. Get in touch for a demo.

Sales Incentive platforms

 

9. Timing is everything

Looking at watch

As with everything else in life, timing is everything.

Ideally an incentive would be short. Short makes it more likely you’ll get the initial take up, as you’re asking for less from your audience internally. It also more readily gives you results, numbers and feedback to start learning from.

If you’re planning to go long, “chunk” the incentive up into month-long or quarterly bites. While employees are always working towards a longer-term goal, there will also be something for them at shorter intervals.

There are three reasons for this.

First, regularly punctuating a scheme with rewards helps keep the excitement and interaction with that scheme high

Second, some employees might be put off by a goal that seems too far away or not achievable. Breaking into blocks makes it more digestible and shows how a big goal is just a series of smaller goals added up.

Third, when there’s monthly rewards, there’s always something to aim for. Imagine an incentive scheme that’s designed to last six months, but two of your staff happen to have exceptional months right off the bat in the first two months. Staff left to catch-up may feel put off, or discouraged, and disengage from your incentive scheme.

10. Be wary of the cost of doing business

Working on laptop

There have been companies that have sold more products, more often, and still lost money.

Essentially, an incentive scheme managed to run a company close to a cash crunch by giving sales staff too much power to set prices.

Giving sales teams some flexibility to bend prices makes lot of sense, too. After all, it’s better to have little bit less profit than lose the sale completely, right? That breathing room might be the difference.

However, the sales staff in these companies were motivated on volume alone. When they managed to wrangle a price from their warehouse to ship products at a certain level, the cost of producing, warehousing, shipping and recording the sale just about overtook the price of the item.

The company appeared to be doing plenty of business, and generating a huge amount of sales. But behind the volume and incentives was a lurking cash crunch that demanded the company spring into action.

Preventing this means talking to your finance department. Or whoever manages your business’ accounts. Alongside them, set hard boundaries on how far, and how often, your sales staff can bend their prices to secure their sales.

Demonstrating that you have considered these issues ahead of time gives your incentive idea much more credibility. In turn, it’s more likely to get off the ground, and unlikely to run into calamitous issues during its operation.

11. Align with the big picture

Open roadMake your incentive idea part of the big picture in your company. Make sure your sales incentive doesn’t just align with, but actively supports, what the wider organisation wants to achieve.

Not only does this make your scheme more likely to set off the right bells in your audience’s mind, it future-proofs you from.

Alongside the overall direction of your company, consider ethics. We’ve spoken before about how your values can be undermined by an incentive scheme that rewards staff for bending your ethics and values.

12. Plan for just one team

When you want to cash in a good idea and deploy it for another team, you can’t just copy and paste the concept.

The stakeholders, the employees, the teams, their needs. They all change and need room to breathe and adjust a good incentive idea to suit their needs.

Your initial plan should be to deliver your sales incentive idea for one specific sales team and one team only. It greatly increases the chances of success when you focus on the needs of that group.

That’s not to say there won’t be significant overlap if your idea ends up being deployed for other teams. But you’re considerably more likely to enjoy success with an incentive idea when it’s highly specialised.

 

13. Centralise communication

Holding up questionsCommunication is an important part of keeping users interested in a scheme and demonstrating transparency.

Putting everything in one centralised place makes it easy to be transparent, and it makes it easy to offer your incentivised staff a single portal. One idea, one message, one platform means consistency of message across a team.

 

Make sales incentive ideas a reality

When it comes to launching fresh sales incentive ideas, we’re often the people saying “just get started.” And usually we’d stand behind that. But as you can see, there are quite a few moving parts to a really good incentive scheme.

Because there are stakeholders that need to buy in and be involved, we would advocate doing your homework on sales incentives and building strong foundations before launching. This isn’t a scheme that can be driven and kept alive exclusively by your own determination, cross-department cooperation and buy-in is essential.

Your aim needs to be get past the excitement and delve into a bit of the grit. Yes, dazzle your leadership with the exciting top-level stuff and the prospect of sales and results. But proof your work against the people that will scratch the surface and dig into whether or not your incentive idea is practical. Its execution lives and dies in their confidence.

Earn their buy-in, secure their approval, and make sure your scheme is as close as possible to an airtight workable proposition. Doing this puts you one step closer to pulling off something that hundreds of people in your place talk about but few actually accomplish – having a great idea, knowing it’s worth the effort, and making it happen.

We’re always here

And if you need any advice on your sales incentive ideas themselves, feel free to get in touch. We’re always happy to talk shop.

you absolutely have to know five things about employee recognition

How to ensure your employee recognition scheme is a success

The leaders in your company must understand the value an employee recognition scheme brings and how it impacts on overall business success. Any business that values its employees and wants them to stay needs to understand that regularly showing appreciation is a key driver of engagement and retention.

Having constant flow of employee recognition is vital to productivity, engagement, morale and retention. You’re doomed if you ignore it while your competitors embrace it.

This blog gives covers the fundamentals of what everyone, from middle management to CEOs, needs to know about employee recognition.

What’s covered in this article:

1. What employee recognition is
2. Why employee recognition matters (the business case)
3. When to recognise your employees, and for what
4. How to recognise staff
5. Getting started on employee recognition

 

What is employee recognition?

what's employee recognition all about?By definition, employee recognition is:

“Communication that seeks to highlight or celebrate achievements, with the intent of reinforcing behaviour and building positive habits.”

That’s a very staid and plain way of describing recognition, however accurate it is.

When you recognise employees, you’re highlighting positive behaviour. Behaviour you want to see repeated and celebrated. We’ll go into details on what you might want to highlight later.

But for now, you can see from that definition that recognition has always existed. It was there every time someone said “good job.”

It just hasn’t always been understood or embraced as a tool for your business.

Peer-to-peer and social recognition are different

Traditional recognition schemes tend to focus heavily on top-down recognition.

Managers recognise employees and senior leaders recognise managers in turn. There’s nothing outright wrong with that, managers should recognise staff for their work. It’s just so constrictive. Peer-to-peer and social recognition put the hierarchy aside and let anyone recognise anyone.

Giving employees the chance to recognise anyone across the business is empowering. It offers them a voice, and an opportunity to talk about what’s important to them in the workplace.

How recognition and rewards interact

employee recognition and rewards are linked but differentYour recognition efforts aren’t inherently separate from your rewards. But they’re not really the same thing, either.

We have a good longer read on everything you need to know about rewards here if you want to read up.

To summarise in a hurry: they’re connected, but separate. Recognition doesn’t have to involve any kind of cash-value reward, but rewards are inherently a form of recognition when they’re the result of behaviour at work.

Pay isn’t the same as employee recognition, by the way

Despite what the more curmudgeonly business leaders think.

Pay is a transaction. It’s cold. It’s also something employees fast become accustomed to. That’s why cash is so questionable as a reward. Our blog goes into more detail on that here.

The emotions you’re trying to create with recognition shouldn’t be associated with being paid on time. You and your employee have already agreed about what their work is worth. Recognition, and reward, are always in addition to being paid.

 

Why employee recognition matters

Employee recognition is more than just a feel-good exercise. Even though it does feel good. It’s a valuable tool for your business.

Companies that embrace recognition, and take the spirit of recognition the right way, see genuine benefits to their business.

The tangible outcome of embracing recognition is more motivated, productive and loyal employees.

Morale

employee recognition is directly linked to better moraleNo one wants to feel like their achievements aren’t valued or noticed. When staff feel unappreciated or ignored, they lose heart. It’s only a natural reaction.

By pointing out and highlighting achievements, we make sure people know they’re valuable.

This makes employees feel good about their work and their place at your company. Their morale will improve, improving the mood of the employees around them.

Productivity

Receiving employee recognition, whether from peers or managers, is validating.

If you’re feeling a bit more callous, you might say to yourself: “Why do I care about employees being happy as long as they get the job done?”

Simple answer: happy employees do more work. They also do better work, they’re easier to collaborate with, and their happiness rubs off on other staff.

Retention

Feeling unappreciated is one of the biggest reasons employees cite when they leave a company. And recognition is a proven pathway to make employees feel more valued.

As we talked about in one of our longer read blogs, retention costs companies thousands of pounds a year. It costs as much as £30,000 to replace a skilled employee once recruitment, training and productivity dips have been accounted for.

There’s no real room for argument here. Not when your company can start recognising employees for free, and it could save you tens of thousands a year.

How employee recognition affects your company culture

An employee recognition scheme influences your company's cultureWhen you embrace employee recognition, it becomes a feedback loop for your company culture.

What you recognise is by default what you treasure and want to promote about your workplace.

You’re signalling that to staff when you recognise them. It’s only natural human behaviour to seek out validation, and to seek to replicate behaviour that results in positive reactions.

Your leadership need to understand this

The link between recognition and culture is why it’s so important leadership understands their role in recognition.

They’re building a company culture, for better or worse. Whether or not they even know they’re doing it.

What your leadership recognise and reward is a way of telling staff how to behave. Regardless of whether your employee handbook says otherwise.

Engagement is in the employee recognition mix

engagement can be improved by tactical recognitionYou’ve probably heard about employee engagement by now. If you haven’t already thought about it, read a quick run-down on our blog here.

It’s essentially your staff getting invested in your company purpose and values. That investment influences their behaviour at work.

Employee recognition has a positive effect on engagement. As long as you get it right.

For many companies, embracing recognition is an extension of their company culture. Seeking and highlighting the value other colleagues bring to the company is a part of how they work.

For other companies, the recognition is what makes the values in your company come to life. By asking employees to express the company values when recognising employees, those ideals are kept alive in the workplace.

This makes it easier for staff to identify and invest in what your company stands for, improving their engagement with your business.

Where’s the proof?

We don’t advocate for the benefits of recognition for no reason. There’s plenty of evidence to show that recognition generates real improvements in your company. As long as you execute it properly.

When there are measurable, tangible benefits to employee recognition, you sort of have to be mad to refuse to take it seriously.

  • Morale
  • 97% of public sector managers agree recognition improves morale, and 98% of managers agree recognition improves a sense of belonging[1]
  • Loyalty
  • 55% of employees say they would move for a company that clearly recognises its employee contributions [3], and recognition rich environments have a 31% lower turnover rate. [6]
  • Productivity
  • Happy employees are, on average, 12% more productive,[2] and and strategic peer-to-peer recognition improves productivity by 32%. [5]
  • Engagement
  • Employee engagement increases by 61% when employee recognition programs are offered [4], and a 15% uplift in engagement correlates with a 2% uplift in operating margin. [7]

 

When to recognise employees, and for what

Employee recognition isn’t a magic staff happiness button. You can’t dish out recognition for everything and anything and expect to see the benefits in line. Pick your moments.

It might cross your mind that we talked about social and peer-to-peer recognition earlier. When your company puts the power to recognise in your employees’ hands, you have to give up a bit of control.

That’s no bad thing, staff need that freedom to feel in control. And you can keep the recognition on track with your social recognition platform – just ask staff to match all their recognition up to one of your company values.

Picking the right time to recognise staff

pic your moments for employee recognitionChoosing the right time to recognise – Use a similar checklist to our when to reward section but make some changes.

Much like rewards, it’s handy to have a little mental checklist. When you’re thinking about employee recognition, especially as a manager, think about:

Values – Ask yourself whether what you want to recognise is part of your company values.

Notable – Making a coffee, or completing standard job tasks isn’t notable. For recognition to be effective it has to highlight behaviour both the employee and management would acknowledge as notable.

Timely – Millennials especially feel the need to see quick recognition for the best work. But it doesn’t matter what generation your staff belong to, being close to the event is helpful.

Positive – Remember what we said about what you recognise becomes what you see in the workplace. Only recognise employees for behaviour you would want the public to see.

Repeatable – This harks back to what we said about recognition being about generating positive behaviour. If you want to see certain behaviours more often, it helps if what you recognise is repeatable. If not the actual task itself, then the spirit of the achievement.

Employee recognition suggestions

shine a light on the right time for employee recognitionTake a look at these ideas as a starting point. Every business is different, so please don’t feel like you should be constrained by these suggestions.

Employee achievements – Put employee accomplishments in the spotlight and show they’re valued.

Longevity – The longer your staff stay, the more valuable they are. And the more important it is to keep them around. Recognise their longevity milestones to make it clear.

Good ideas – Improving processes, products or services with creativity or knowledge.

Problem prevention – Spotting a roadblock and prevent a crisis could save you huge amounts of hours and money fixing a problem.

Project delivery – Making sure vital projects go live on time.

Working on initiative – Acting on good ideas when the chance comes along and turning them into something workable and valuable to the business.

Helping colleagues – Offering time and care to help colleagues hit deadlines, or help other departments deliver projects.

Going above and beyond – Employees who go outside their job role and take responsibility for projects or ideas.

Putting values first – Finding ethical solutions to problems requires ingenuity and skill. That often merits recognition.

Hero of the month – Focus on your stand-out performer of the month. And, as we suggested in another blog, consider democratising that process and letting your staff have a say.

Milestones – Recognise your teams and employees when they bring you closer to organisational goals.

And many more possibilities – Without a crystal ball, we can’t look into your company and tell you what matters most in your workplace. Your values and your day-to-day needs will tell you that.

Focus on outcomes

focus on what really matters for employee recognitionThe most effective employee recognition will focus on tangible outcomes.

Differences and improvements employees, and their colleagues, will recognise in the workplace.

By staying in the visible spectrum, so to speak, what you recognise is always easy to understand.

And it’s easy for employees to latch on to what’s important and encouraged in your business.

 

How to recognise your employees

Employee recognition channels

In broad terms, you have three avenues to recognise employees; verbal, physical and digital. For example:

Verbal

Verbal recognition would include face-to-face talks, or vocally celebrating someone’s achievement in a huddle or department meeting.

Digital

Digital recognition would include highlighting achievements on your social media or your website. It would also cover using a recognition platform or an online wall of fame. You might also choose to send out emails to celebrate staff achievements.

Physical

Physical recognition uses items to create trophies. That might include literal trophies, but you don’t have to stop there. It also includes recognition letters, handwritten notes, certificates and placards.

Mix and match your approach

pick and mix the right approach to employee recognition based on your employees' needs and valuesThe best employee recognition schemes don’t just stick to one way of communicating. There are benefits and limitations to every approach, so it’s best to mix and match.

Verbal recognition is personal, immediate and emotional. But it’s fleeting. A digital recognition is more permanent, but needs a public element to influence other staff.

Trophies and plaques are nice mementos, but need an accompanying personal message for proper context.

Be funkier if you can

Get creative if your company culture and environment let you. Like we’ve said a few times already on this blog, if you get the basics right you can be as creative as you like.

Work the flavour and personality of your team and company culture into your employee recognition scheme.

Some companies hand out custom Lego miniatures. Others use stickers on the back of chairs, or a Wall of Fame on the wall of the office. You’re only limited by your imagination the boundaries of your company culture.

Platforms make employee recognition easy to manage

Using an employee recognition platform simplifies issuing, tracking and managing employee recognition.

Issuing recognition

Issuing recognition over a platform is versatile. You’re no longer bound by the need to be in the same room as the person receiving recognition. Email makes a nice alternative, but you forgo the benefits of recognition being public: a central, digital, visible place to recognise employees.

Tracking and learning

Platforms offer you a top-down view of employee recognition. You can see who receives recognition. And what they’re recognised for. This gives you valuable insight on how your company interacts. When recognition is quiet, or private, there’s no opportunity to use it as a business learning tool.

Management

Often, recognition in between employees is private. Delivered through emails or verbal. In turn, it’s fleeting. When recognition goes public, managers can see it. There are two benefits to that. First, senior leadership can see the virtues and achievements of teams they don’t always get to interact with. Second, they can measure it and better understand the business.

Values framing

While verbal recognition is personal and real, it makes it harder to incorporate values. Your staff live your values, they don’t generally sit around talking about them. A digital record lets you frame recognition in your values without being stilted or coming off awkward in a conversation.

Integrating rewards

It’s much easier to integrate rewards into your employee recognition with a platform. Many recognition platforms have reward options built-in, or have simple reward plug-ins. That makes it easy to top recognition off with a reward.

For more on the advantages of using a platform, read more on our Shout! employee recognition product page.

Or, if you’re shopping around, you can read our blog on how to pick quality employee recognition software.

 

How to get an employee recognition scheme off the ground

getting an employee recognition scheme started is the hardest partYou could introduce an effective employee recognition platform with just the time it takes to plan and implement it.

Establish values

Make sure you have a clear idea of what your company culture is about, and the behaviours and values you want to see reflected.

This will form the basis of which behaviours you want to recognise later on.

Seek buy-in

Your company’s leadership need to understand and buy into your values, and the concept of employee recognition.

This is important – the success of new ideas depends on buy-in for two reasons.

First, your senior leaders must believe it’s necessary, and must agree to put the resources aside to achieve it. Second, your middle management must have the motivation, and the breathing room, to execute the new idea.

Establish criteria

Get a clear idea of what should merit recognition in your business. This will be based on the details of how your company works, and what achievement looks like in your company. Then communicate this decision to your management teams.

Tell your employees what to expect

Tell your staff about employee recognition. Explain why you’re taking employee recognition more seriously, and what kind of changes they can expect to see.

Name your scheme or concept

Give your employee recognition efforts a name. By giving it an internal identity, something that reflects your employees’ personality and culture, you make it easy to remember and become attached to.

Measure and reflect

set your goals and measure your progress after start your employee recognition schemeUse an anonymous survey ahead of time to gauge how your employees feel. Ask about the areas you’d like to see influenced by an employee recognition scheme.

Ask your managers to keep track of what recognition they’re issuing, and when (assuming you don’t have a platform to manage this for you).

After enough time, ask your staff’s opinion again with another survey. A year would be enough time to get a feeling of your success.

However, you might want to use pulse surveys at shorter intervals for top-ups.

Good today, perfect tomorrow

Start with something simple, repeatable and effective. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to make something completely perfect before getting started.

Over time you can implement platforms, rewards, social recognition and more. But the benefits of embracing employee recognition are available regardless of whether or not you have a formalised piece of software.

Easy to learn, difficult to master

Once you have your head wrapped around the concept of recognition, it’s easy to get started. But like many worthwhile things, it’s easier to get started than it is to master.

Platforms, as we discussed earlier, are a great way to gain an understanding of how recognition is affecting your company. But you need the expertise and time inside your company to measure and understand what you’re getting out of them.

 

Take us as an example of employee recognition in action

Park Group, our parent company, has a company culture informed by four ideas. We call it our Trademark Behaviour. We always aim to be:

  • Collaborative – We value each other and we work together as colleagues, clients and partners so that we exceed our goals effectively.
  • Respectful – We appreciate the contribution and opinion of others; when we act with respect we optimise everything.
  • Empathetic – We are human and we value everyone.
  • Dynamic – We are curious about the world; we are passionate about agility and we love what we do.

We see our colleagues put these values into motion every day. How we treat each other, how we treat clients, and how we approach our work reflects those values. Leadership figures understand the need for recognition, and all of our colleagues are empowered to deliver it.

Recognition at Park and Appreciate is expressed over a variety of channels. We see verbal recognition straight after tasks, we see written recognition in notes and emails, we see recognition in our meetings and we see it in our internal communications.

Notably, you can also see it on our shared social recognition platform. By using a blend of techniques, we can see employees across department, divisions and sites receive recognition for their work.

 

Talk to us about your employee recognition scheme

Our Engagement Services team are experts in helping businesses deliver effective employee recognition schemes and platforms.

If you’re not sure how to get started with yours, or want to talk about using some effective recognition software, get in touch. Send us an email, use the web chat on this page, or call the number at the top and bottom of this page.

get a grip on employee rewards without hitting the books

The best guide to understanding employee rewards you can read in 10 minutes

Employee rewards are vital to your employee recognition and benefit mix. Getting the most from your rewards means getting to grips with the basics of using them. Enjoy the full rundown on what you need to know about employee rewards.

In this blog, we cover the fundamentals of:

1. What employee rewards are

2. Why employee rewards matter

3. When you should reward staff

4. How to manage your rewards

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What employee rewards are

An employee reward is any token, gift, prize, or cash-value trophy. You use them to thank employees for something you or your company believe is valuable.

That’s the simple part. The harder part is figuring out how you can make the best use of them in your business.

How that intersects with recognition and incentives

Recognition

Rewards act as a signal boost for recognition. We’ve said this a few times, but rewards aren’t the same as recognition.

They’re linked, because rewards can back up recognition. But it’s important to get a grip on how recognition works without rewards to make sure you’re getting the most out of your rewards.

Incentives

It’s easy to confuse incentives and employee rewards and put them into the same neat category. The truth is they’re related, but very different ideas.

An incentive still involves a reward, but to be an incentive the employee reward needs to be withheld until the employee or team hits a target.

An effective incentive also has to be discussed ahead of time to give the employee motivation to complete a task or hit a milestone. Otherwise, you’re firmly in the world of just issuing rewards.

Now that you’ve got the what, we’ll walk you through the why, when and how of using employee rewards for your business.

We’ll start with why they’re so important.

Why you need to offer employee rewards

You need to offer rewards for three major reasons:

  • Intrinsic and extrinsic rewards.
  • Operant conditioning.
  • Expectation.

We’ll explain each of them here.

Intrinsic and extrinsic rewards

In the office, intrinsic reward is the feel-good sensation your staff take from their work. Feeling proud of achievements.

Taking pride in supporting their team. Feeling a sense of accomplishment in helping the business reach its goals.

Many elements go into that sensation. Your management style, engagement, the work itself. And recognition, too. That’s why it’s so important you get a grip on both rewards and recognition.

Extrinsic rewards, the other kind, are the ones you buy from us. They’re external rewards that have some kind of tangible element. Their real-world cash value is what fuels their value to staff.

The two need separate understanding, but they intersect. The physical (extrinsic) rewards make the intrinsic (emotional) rewards more powerful. They do this by turning them into trophies.

Not only do your staff get something they enjoy through the reward, there’s a lasting impact. Non-cash value rewards make excellent trophies. Unlike cash, which we’ve covered already as a poor reward.

Those trophies have an afterglow. They help your employee bask in a sense of achievement whenever they reflect on their reward.

That means employee rewards do more than make employees feel great about one achievement. It makes them feel better about their entire job. It’s a useful tool for building employee engagement.

Combined, there’s a big influence on motivation and job performance. Assuming you deploy your employee reward scheme effectively.

Operant conditioning

Operant conditioning is a fancy way of saying “getting people to do what you want.”

The concept is similar to Pavlov and his famous bell. Only instead of making your employees hungry you make them feel good.

The process is very simple. Your employees do something exceptional. What that is, we’ll address later. Recognising this exceptional event, you reward the employee.

The reward, as we’ve said, doubles-down on how good they already feel about their achievement.

It’s human nature to seek out those good feelings again. Behaviour you reward is behaviour you’re more likely to see repeated in the future.

As a result, you quietly train staff to associate good feelings with work achievements.

The rewards, like the ones we supply, make that easy.

Expectation

Rewards are an extremely common tool for incentives and motivation. Excellence requires acknowledgement and celebration. As we pointed out, rewards are a very effective tool for marking and creating high performance.

The flip side of rewards being commonplace is that they become an expectation. What was once a fringe benefit is something staff assume they’ll receive.

Expectation is very important to employees. Failing to meet it starts to erode the way employees see their employers. Over time, failing to match expectation chips away at their faith in the business.

This has a knock-on effect on employee engagement.

Summary:

To summarise, you need to offer rewards for three primary reasons.

1. They’re good for motivation, morale and productivity. They interact with and amplify the intrinsic rewards we mentioned to do that.

2. Employee rewards help you get more of what you want from staff. That’s by influencing and reinforcing their behaviour through rewards.

3. Staff are expecting to receive them.

Now it’s a question of when you should be doling out the rewards.

When you need to offer employee rewards

Love2shop Corporate RewardsAs we pointed out earlier, rewards work as behaviour modifiers. As such, rewards need deploying when you have a chance to create a better work culture.

We can’t tell you every single situation in your company when a reward would be appropriate.

At least not without one of the team getting to know your business first (you’re always welcome to give us a call, we’d love to do just that).

But we can give you, based on your experience, some suggestions to start the engine for you.

Reward employees for:

  1. Exceeding performance targets
  2. Exceptional customer service
  3. Sustained outstanding performance
  4. Putting other people’s needs before their own
  5. Going beyond their job description for the company
  6. Spotting major roadblocks and coming up with ways around them.
  7. Exceptional ideas for the future. You should already have a way to submit ideas, and you should reward the most exceptional ideas
  8. Volunteering their free time to support charities you value
  9. Putting your company values first in their work and behaviour
  10. Taking up an exceptional amount of voluntary training
  11. Solving a long-standing problem
  12. Organising fun (but appropriate) social events or drumming up community spirit
  13. Referring valuable new clients
  14. Displaying notable loyalty to the business
  15. Being a leader in the office, whether it’s making sure the office gets cleaned or helping employees deal with change

If you’re ever unsure if an employee should be rewarded, run a mental checklist. Ask yourself if the situation is:

  • Notable: For both the employee and their peers, the reward should attach to something obviously notable.
  • Positive: It should almost go without saying, but only reward positive behaviour.
  • Values-based: In clear alignment with your company values.
  • Purposeful: Contributes to the purpose and mission of your company.
  • Timely: Don’t let time pass between a noteworthy employee event and your offering of a reward.

Now you know what, why and when. It’s just a question how rewards should find their way to staff.

How to reward employees

The different types of employee rewards, how to deliver them to staff, and the relative merits of each approach.

Digital, physical, a blend of each, the benefits and drawbacks.

Types of rewards

  • Cash.
  • Cash-value.
    • Gift cards.
    • Vouchers.
    • Digital reward codes.
  • Trophies.
  • Merchandise.
  • Experiences.

The pros and cons of different employee rewards

Cash

Cash is not a great reward, even if it is a popular one. Read more about our opinion on that here. But to give you the summary: your staff are used to it.

It’s an existing transaction. Money is also a source of stress. It doesn’t make sense to confuse pay and rewards by rewarding with cash.

Gift Cards

Gift cardsLove2shop Gift Cards are versatile and exciting. Our gift cards come with more than 95 in-store retailers, and e-gift cards.

E-gift cards are a further selection of physical and digital brands accessed by swapping the value of your gift card online. Gift cards work for just about anyone, assuming you can get them delivered.

Vouchers

Vouchers are simple, tactile and immediate. We still see a place for the voucher in the reward marketplace.

Particularly for on the spot, quick rewards among staff that can’t use a phone or computer at work.

Digital rewards

Digital reward codesLove2shop Reward Codes (or e-codes) make it simple to ping rewards about teams that aren’t always in the same.

By using SMS and as delivery, anyone with a phone or computer can receive the reward.

Experiences

We’ve watched the demand for experience grow massively over the last two years. It’s a sign of changing times, as more of the younger generation enters the workforce.

As a result, there’s less emphasis on items and more longing for adventure. Whether it’s a group experience or individual experiences, they’re rising as workplace demographics change.

Trophies

There’s still a place for the simple trophy. Even if other rewards become their own sort of trophies, an actual trophy has value.

They’re very effective for capping off internal contests or light-hearted competitions. And they’re extremely cost-effective compared to the positives impact on morale.

Merchandise

We don’t just mean a company-branded windbreaker. We’re talking about electronics, fashion, kitchenware, cameras, sporting equipment, luggage and more.

Demand for merchandise tends to trend toward older generations, but there’s a lot of older workers to cater for.

Sourcing your rewards

Obviously, we’re a bit biased on this subject. But you would have to be mad to try to source and house a catalogue worth of rewards on your own.

Especially if you want to use a mix of rewards. Let a third party handle that for you. Reward suppliers offer you reward management, platforms, expertise on running schemes and quick delivery.

Our employee rewards as a case study

Your company doesn’t have to just pick a reward and stick with it. Appreciate’ teams are a great example of using a blend of rewards.

We have logistics, office-bound and mobile staff across multiple locations. We have to mix up how we reward teams.

Our warehouse staff spend most of their time away from a computer. To keep the warehouse ticking there’s a lot of picking, packing, boxing and counting going on.

So any kind of employee reward tends to be physical. Our warehouse teams also swell quite a lot during the run-up to Christmas. Gift cards and vouchers are timely and tangible.

In a warehouse environment, without phones or computers handy, they make perfect sense.

Some of our sales staff, on the other hand, are mobile. And we also have a second location down south.

Mobile sales staff are only in the office once or twice a month, and our second office come to HQ even more sporadically.

For them, a reward essentially has to be digital. We can send digital rewards quite easily with a digital reward code.

Anyone, anywhere, gets a code through their phone or email and cash them in straight away.

Meanwhile, we have a lot of flexibility for our permanent in-office staff. Because all of our employees have an Everyday Benefits discount gift card, we can top them up as a reward.

It saves us issuing a brand new gift card for every reward opportunity. They then spend the EDB discount card just like a regular Love2shop Gift Card.

We can also draw on business occasion cards and occasionally digital rewards.

Just like our clients, we have a mix of options at our disposal because we have a mix of staff.

What you need to do now about your employee rewards

Start implementing. Worry about formalising and automating later. You could spend a long time planning and worrying about the perfect reward scheme, but just getting started matters.

Time spent dithering is time spent not trying, doing or learning. You will want to deploy, assess, re-assess and adjust as time goes on. Starting with a modest, deliverable plan and expand on your successes.

Use our list of behaviours as inspiration to get started, and assemble a list of achievements to look for. Once you know what you want to reward, consider how your employees work.

Their unique work conditions will dictate the type of reward and how it’s delivered. Then just get to it.

If you want anything, whether that’s some gift cards or just some advice. Get in touch. We’d love to talk to you. Just use the live chat on this blog, call us on the number at the top of this page, or shoot us an email.

14 effective ways to improve staff retention and slash your recruitment budget

Staff retention is, undeniably, a vital element of any successful business.

The stats show that employee turnover is a giant financial burden to the nation’s employers.

The cost of voluntary turnover in the UK [1]:

  • Replacing a skilled employee costs
  • £20,000 to £30,000
  • Lost productivity of turnover costs
  • £16,000 to £39,000
  • Finding and training new staff costs
  • £3,000 to £6,500
  • Training a new employee takes
  • 12 to 18 months
  • In 2013 alone, turnover in the UK cost
  • Over £1 billion

Those figures show an unacceptable burden to UK business. And employees are still as prone to leave as ever – in 2016 alone, one in seven UK employees resigned from a position.

If you look around your office, could you honestly say you could afford to lose one in seven staff? For the sake of your company, we hope the answer is a resounding “no.”

The good news is many problems that cause high turnover are avoidable. With a bit of intent, investment and time, you could address staff retention in a quarter.

Start with the ideas we lay out here.

14 effective ways to improve your staff retention

Click below to jump to a section:

 

1. Advocate your values

If your business doesn’t have values, it’s time to think of investing in some. We choose the word investment on purpose.

Values are a significant boost to a company that lives and dies by upholding them. However, like any investment they need attention, maintenance and care to be valuable.

Modern staff increasingly indicate they want to work for ethical companies. The world is more aware than ever of the effects of our lives, personal and professional, on the wider world.

As a result, there’s some existential and internal pressure to behave in an ethical manner. Those needs dovetail neatly with what employees want from their employers.

Upholding some coherent, ethical values will help you with staff retention. [2]

2. Establish a purpose and talk about it

connecting employees with values helps improve employee retentionConnect the work your employees do to something more interesting than bars on a chart. Then make that your purpose, and find a way to talk about it.

Graphs and bar charts are too boring. They need context to get an emotional response from staff. They don’t seem as tangible as real-life outcomes.

Too many companies set out with a purpose, but it ends up as flimsy PR, internally and externally.

Employees stay with employers that make a real difference to the wider world. Connecting employees with a professional raison d’être gives them more than just figures and graphs to look to when it comes to what they take satisfaction in with their work. [3]

3. Recognise staff

Recognise your employees for anything that brings sincere value to your workplace. Not just for hitting targets, but for improving your workplace overall.

Recognition isn’t just another form of reward, it’s a way of building a relationship among a group.

From both managers and colleagues, it’s important for human beings to feel like a valued member of a team. It’s vital to our emotional comfort and personal and professional safety.

Recognition improves areas like motivation, productivity, engagement and satisfaction. It extends to retention, too: 55% of employees state that they would leave their current job for a company that embraces recognition. [4]

4. Empower staff and listen to them

Having a voice in decision-making gives staff a sense of buy-in over their work and what they’re being asked to do.

The only thing worse than not listening to staff, is listening to staff and ignoring what they say.

When your staff believe in a project that requires their expertise, they will be more invested in the project’s success.

Long-term, this helps build your employees’ engagement with their work and your company. [5]

Engaged employees are much more likely to stick with a company than disengaged employees.

That’s because having power and a voice is a big part of feeling close to an employer’s values and purpose.

5. Pay fair and competitive salaries

Your business isn’t “getting away” with anything by underpaying staff. You’re only going to guarantee they will leave.

A job can only ever look like a stepping stone an extremely underpaid employee.

Poor pay remains one of the top reasons an employee leaves a job. Considering the enormous cost of replacing talent we outlined earlier in this article, paying staff badly is at best an own-goal.

The short-term gains don’t make up for having to reinvest in new staff. [6]

6. Talk about the future

Not only the future of the business, but the future of the employee. It’s important for two major reasons.

First, job security. Being acknowledged as a part of the plans for the future makes it clear they have a place in the company.

That security lets staff stop fretting about the safety of their job, and focus on their work. [7]

Second, it gives staff the security that your company is the place to achieve their career goals.

You’ll struggle to retain staff in the long term if they aren’t sure what their role long-term role is. They need to know if that matches up their ambitions.

7. Reward excellence

Issue rewards for the best and brightest. As we’ve pointed out before, rewards for excellence become trophies.

Trophies become reminders of personal excellence, and they generate passive motivation.

Feeling valued, and having a token of that value, makes staff likely to seek another reward in the future. They’ll do that by striving for more achievement.

In that same article, we also discussed how ineffective cash is as a reward. It doesn’t create an effective association between achievement and the sensation of reward.

When giving rewards, prioritise non-cash rewards unless you absolutely have to use cash.

8. Invest in employee skills

You don’t want an immobile, low-skilled workforce. You’ll hobble your company’s growth. The problem is, it’s so easy to create one through underinvestement in skills.

Staff retention means putting resources into your people.

It will also stifle your ability to grow and change over time to meet the changing needs of the world around you.

Diversify and invest in your staff’s skills. Or the ones who can grow and change will end up walking away to companies offering to nurture them. [11]

9. Seek feedback and act on it

Receive feedback, and make sure to move on it. Asking for advice and input but ignoring replies actually makes the problem worse.

It’s a two-faced approach, paying lip-service to an obligation, but not truly believing in what you’re doing.

Ignoring feedback, especially when it was sought, will drive employee morale straight off a cliff. Low morale is a direct line to struggling with staff retention. [12]

10. Take an honest look at your management

It only takes one bad manager to undo a great deal of careful planning.

At its worst, half of employees choosing to go left directly because of management.

When a business makes significant cultural, or organisational, shifts it’s vital that every manager understands and embraces them. [10]

This blog has already covered how only measuring KPIs undermines your company’s values. We’ve also covered how toxic management can appear deceptively successful.

Toxic management will unpick every good intention you set out with in your business. And only measuring the success of KPIs and metrics encourages that toxic behaviour.

11. Open up flexible working

Flexibility matters to workers. Employees consistently demand flexibility from their employers.

Technology has allowed work to infiltrate the home lives of workers through computers.

As a result, the lines between the personal and professional are irreparably blurred.

Many staff see a fair but neccessary transaction here. In exchange for more work out of office hours, employers have less say over where that work takes place.

You might have some hard red lines, depending on your industry. You can’t fly in the face of regulations, legal constraints or even the need to staff your call centre. But flexibility will be a prized workplace benefit for the foreseeable future.

And employees will leave for employers with more flexible approaches to work. That’s a direct threat to staff retention.[8] [9]

12. Offer robust employee benefits

Employee benefits are not optional. They’re vital for attracting and keeping quality people.

Even just finding a way to alleviate the financial burden on your staff could be monumental.

Every day, a huge swathe of British workers struggle to prevent endless financial struggle from affecting their work. [13]

Employee benefits that improve quality of life increase employee attachment to employers.

Competitive employee benefits packages reduce personal issues that make employees think about leaving.

They also help you attract new employees at the same time. Combined it’s great for acquisition and staff retention.

13. Address your work environment

Does your workplace work for your workforce? As companies grow, workplaces themselves can become a millstone around the neck.

They can stop teams from reaching their potential and frustrate your employees. Frustrated employees are poor for staff retention.

Companies like Google, Facebook and Apple invest collective billions into their work environments. Because they know employees need appropriate surroundings to excel.

Some factors that make a workplace a better environment for your employees include:

  • The ability for employees to communicate properly.
  • Some degree of privacy, or space for quiet work.
  • Access to the technology they need to do their work, like wireless internet or video conferencing equipment.
  • A location that’s desirable without being inaccessible for staff.
  • Access to food and health services.
  • Safety of workers during their working day.

14. Embrace the exit interview

If an employee leaving your business is a cloud, then the exit interview needs to be the silver lining.

You can’t claw back an employee already walking out the door, but you can learn from what set them on that path.

Then you can apply that knowledge to the rest of the your staff. Especially the ones who might have one foot out the proverbial door.

Put employees at ease by holding the interview after they’ve secured a reference. That way there’s no fear that they’ll put their next role in jeopardy.

Ask open-ended questions that address their employee experience without being too negative. For instance, asking what an employee would like change about the company is more constructive than just asking what they didn’t like about working for your company.

Be positive, honest and above all else, keep their answers as confidential as possible.

Getting staff retention strategies off the ground

Ultimately, your company needs to believe in the change, and believe in the need for the change to take place. Not just individually, but as an organisation.

Making any kind of substantial change to how your business operates will tend to seem like a big deal. That means it’s important to have the will to overcome any hurdles.

Your senior leadership needs belief in the change to drive it home. In the long run, it will be worth it. Employees that stay longer bring immense value and understanding to your company.

Their contributions eclipse the price of making sure they stay in the fold in the first place. Once your senior leadership understand the need for change, it’s much easier to drive positive changes across a whole business.

References:

1.Oxford Economics, Brain Drain, 2014
2.https://www.forbes.com/sites/forrester/2018/05/23/millennials-call-for-values-driven-companies-but-theyre-not-the-only-ones-interested/
3.https://www.prweek.com/article/1463132/employees-engaged-purpose-led-companies-survey-says
4.2015 SHRM/Globoforce survey
5.https://www2.deloitte.com/insights/us/en/focus/human-capital-trends/2016/employee-engagement-and-retention.html#endnote-sup-3
6.https://www.hrdive.com/news/employees-most-likely-to-quit-for-a-higher-salary-elsewhere/527382/
7.https://hbr.org/2017/03/why-do-employees-stay-a-clear-career-path-and-good-pay-for-starters
8.https://www.ft.com/content/1c3e8d8a-6a70-11e8-aee1-39f3459514fd
9.https://www.personneltoday.com/hr/new-polls-confirm-desire-for-flexible-working-as-9-to-5-declines/
10.https://www.gallup.com/workplace/232955/no-employee-benefit-no-one-talking.aspx
11.https://www.forbes.com/sites/meghanbiro/2018/07/23/developing-your-employees-is-the-key-to-retention-here-are-4-smart-ways-to-start/#4b0155643734
12.https://news.gallup.com/businessjournal/22753/youve-gotten-employee-feedback-now-what.aspx
13.https://www.employeebenefits.co.uk/two-fifths-work-financial-worries/

REDUCING SICKNESS ABSENCE AND INCREASING EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT: PART TWO

With ever-increasing workloads, seemingly shorter pay-packets and every second person suffering from the flu, it’s little surprise that many employees succumb to the temptation to hit snooze on the alarm clock and call in sick. So what can companies do to ensure that going in to work is a better option?

In our last article we discussed the day-to-day measures that need to be put in place for a company to have an effective sickness absence policy. In the second part of our two-part series, we look at more proactive strategies that companies can implement. 

FOCUS ON EMPLOYEE MOTIVATION

Research shows that well motivated employees who enjoy high levels of job satisfaction, are more committed and less likely to succumb to the lure of the duvet day (or the temptation to interview for a job with a competitor).

Increasing autonomy where appropriate is a valuable staff motivation technique. It sends the message that team members are trusted and their contributions valued. And let’s face it, you are more likely to come up with innovative, time saving enhancements to a way of working if it’s your time you are saving. The fact that your time also happens to be the company’s time is secondary from an individual’s perspective.

It is also worth consulting with your employees on issues that affect them wherever possible. When people have been involved with a decision, they have a vested interest in a successful outcome and they are more likely to be committed to an environment where they feel that they have been given a stake in success.

OFFER FLEXIBILITY

If possible, give managers discretion to allow a reasonable degree of flexibility, for example, allowing an employee to come in an hour or so late to deal with a domestic issue and make up the time later. If the approach is implemented fairly and equally, it can help reduce sickies, improve employee relations and strengthen commitment.

Again, so long as it is used maturely, letting team members take an early lunch to beat the queues at the post-office should be appreciated and lead to a more committed workforce.

It’s also worth contemplating amending policies during major sporting events like the World Cup or the Olympics, extending the working day so that, for example, individuals can decide to watch a football match during work time without any loss of productivity from the company’s perspective (so long as they are not disrupting colleagues).

RECOGNISE ACHIEVEMENTS

Everybody needs recognition that their contribution is meaningful and appreciated. Implementing an employee recognition scheme that offers rewards based on achievement and empowers colleagues to thank one another can be a powerful way to tangibly invigorate engagement and optimise performance.

The effectiveness of a recognition scheme depends on timeliness of delivery, the ability to link recognition to corporate goals or values and the appeal of any rewards on offer – gift cards or digital rewards are a popular choice as they offer great choice to the employee.

The current generation of social recognition platforms means that this doesn’t need to be complicated to implement or require a high degree of management or administration time.

REWARD LOW ABSENCE RATES

Attendance incentives or bonuses are sometimes used to reward good attendance records as part of a broader absence management programme.

It’s an approach that requires careful consideration and planning so as not to disadvantage employees who have to take time off sick because of a disability or a pregnancy-related illness (both of these groups are protected in law), but there are plenty of ways of making sure that it is implemented fairly and with sensitivity. Again, the current generation of online reward platforms can support this type of approach with minimal implementation or administration time.

TAKE STEPS TO REDUCE STRESS

A little stress affects us all from time to time – but too much pressure can manifest itself in physical symptoms and evolve into serious illness that can lead to a protracted absence, removing resources and expertise from the workplace.

One effective counter-measure is to train line managers to look out for signs of stress among employees and try and find ways to help their teams cope better with the demands of their job. Encourage managers to use both formal and informal performance conversations to keep a check on how well teams are coping with their workload so that they can provide advice and support where needed.

Create a culture where people feel comfortable about approaching their managers and openly discuss any problems or concerns they have about work.

MAKE SURE SENIOR MANAGEMENT ARE VISIBLE

It’s a simple thing (and all the more difficult for that) but encouraging senior management to be visible at all levels of the business can also be a good way of encouraging engagement.

There’s always a risk that being too visible could lead to senior leaders being cornered by shop-floor workers with trivial complaints about lack of soap in the bathroom, but the chances are that if staff feel that they are being listened to by their line managers, they’ll see any interactions with senior management as an opportunity to shine not vent steam.

 

CONDUCT BOTH ANNUAL AND “PULSE” SURVEYS

Conducting regular workplace surveys is a good way of understanding where your company is and where it can improve. Technology enhancements mean that these don’t have to be time consuming to create, distribute or complete, but the data that they provide can be very useful, particularly when compared year-on-year.

It can also help you understand which members of your management and leadership team are particularly good at creating engaged team members, which can help inform discussions around pay review time.

Creating an engaged workforce that has less of a tendency to take unwarranted sickness absence can seem like a difficult task, but like many things in life, it starts by taking a few simple steps. Put the right polices in place and make some mild behaviour changes and you could quickly find an improvement in morale at all levels of the business. A happier workplace with a strong sense of community and purpose is one that people will want to come to, even when the warmth of a cosy duvet calls.