Rewarding employees to increase engagement

While you might think that a high salary and/ or a prestigious promotion is reward enough for your best employees, experts in employee engagement disagree. When it comes to showing your team that you appreciate them and value their contributions, you need to ensure that they feel sufficiently rewarded.

Creative rewards are about so much more than having a casual dress day or hosting a staff Christmas party. A program that regularly rewards your most valuable employees is a must for a successful business. It can help you maintain a happy and productive workplace, something that is important for a profitable company.

If you want to see an increase in your bottom line year on year, happy employees are a must. A 2011 Gallup poll on employee happiness found that unhappy workers are costing their employers more than $300 billion USD per year around the globe!
An unsatisfied employee is listless, unproductive and less likely to ‘go the extra mile’ for their employer, and this affects their company’s profits. Their unhappiness can manifest in many different ways – they might work at a slower pace, take more sick days or shave valuable minutes off of their workdays in the form of longer tea breaks and earlier departures. Their ennui can also result in a lack of creativity and overall drive to contribute to the company.

Fostering a workplace atmosphere that boosts morale

If you want to create a workplace environment that fosters happiness – and as a result, productivity, you can go ahead and offer perks and rewards. After all, these are great motivators – people love to be recognized. That said, they might not have the intended effect of creating employee engagement and boosting loyalty and retention. No, any and all perks should be a presented and implemented as one piece of a larger, well planned recognition program.

Effective recognition (along with regular feedback) is a key part of building morale amongst your workforce. If you don’t provide an adequate amount of training and support to your staff, you are not rewarding their hard work. This aspect of management needs to be a priority – this is so much more important than a round of drinks or a nice coffee maker.

Another way to boost morale is to provide a fair and tolerant work environment. This needs to include transparency at all levels of management, and a fair system of recognizing –and penalizing – all employees. If your staff feels that you play favourites or are too lenient with their peers, they will be less motivated to help your business grow and succeed.

How to build an effective rewards program – and boost engagement

Now that you realise the importance of recognizing your employees in a fair and meaningful way, it is time to start creating a rewards system that can help to bolster your strategy.

It makes sense to create a regulated system that will complement your efforts and encourage your employees to do their best. When they know that their productivity and engagement will be rewarded, they are much more likely to strive towards excellence.

Your rewards program should be customized to your company – what works for one business will not work for another. A tech start up might offer a video games parlour or a soda fountain to allow their employees to let loose and have fun, but this would not work for high end fashion retail or a plumbing company!

You need to carefully consider your audience – are you a company that employs a lot of fit and healthy people? Rewarding them with an ‘all you can eat’ dessert buffet or a massive pub lunch might not be a good motivator. They would probably be quite turned off by this reward, and it may have the opposite effect.

Every rewards system needs to be customized for your business, but here are a few things that you need to consider for every program:

  • Incentivize productivity 

    Reward your staff members on a regular basis for their efforts in productivity. Give rewards to your sales team hitting their quotas, to your social media team for getting shares, or to your production team for smashing their targets.

  • Create games and incentivize social selling

    It’s not news that people love video games and social media! If you want to create an environment that encourages your team to do their best, ‘gamify’ your rewards program. Create leaderboards, badges and even a custom made app to track progress. After all, people love games – and they love to win!

  • Choose great reward

    While you want to regularly provide rewards and incentives, they don’t always have to cost a lot of cash. You can dole out extra time off, ‘work from home’ privileges and other perks in the office. For really special achievements, you can give your team bigger rewards, such as gift cards, a free lunch or dinner, or other swag related to your industry. Get their peers involved in the congratulations – recognition from colleagues is a great reward.

  • Be reliable and utilize tools to keep track of results

    You can promise rewards all you want, but if you do not keep track of your employees’ progress it will all seem meaningless. In fact, promising rewards that you do not follow through on will decrease employee engagement – the opposite effect that you want. You need to utilise tools to ensure that you stay on top of who has earned which rewards, and give them out promptly.

Once you follow these steps and create a rewards program, you will see your employee engagement go through the roof. If your program doesn’t work right away, tinker with it and make changes appropriate to your team. Most importantly, you will be telling your employees that they matter, that you appreciate them, and that they are a big part of your success.

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