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Do employee rewards matter? Are they effective? Are they a waste of time and money? Does anybody care? Do you even see a difference in performance?


If you find yourself asking any of those questions, you’re not alone.

Managing human capital is complex. Employees don’t function like a balance sheet. You can’t see exact figures relating to how motivated they are. And it’s often difficult to connect the dots between the rewards you’re giving out, and the effect they’re having on your revenue stream.

But if you’re asking questions about employee engagement, count yourself in the top tier in terms of thought leaders. Which means you have what it takes to successfully navigate the rapidly changing workplace we find ourselves in.

The answer to important employee engagement questions

Believe it or not, many South African business owners are still stuck in the dark ages when it comes to investing in a workplace culture. Especially when it comes to seeing rewards as a way to attract top talent and boost productivity. What we see in those instances is a failure to allocate strategic energy towards important questions. Like; if our staff feel valued, what is the outcome for our bottom line? If we spend on a well-curated recognition program, and not just ad hoc rewards, can we better measure results?

To assist you in finding your own answers, we’ve put together a list of reward moments that will help you:

  • Develop stronger relationships with your staff, which will directly impact productivity.
  • Get more strategic about your rewards so that you can start to measure results and make informed decisions.

8 opportunities to fan the flames of employee performance

1. Thank-you meetings

50% of employees would sacrifice their salary (as much as 29% of it) to work in a job they enjoy (Kforce). By getting managers to hold thank-you meetings, you’re developing a culture of recognition that won’t cost you a cent. The process is simple. Managers call employees in to say thank you. They only talk about good work and don’t discuss anything else.

2. Rewarding improvement

The traditional approach is to dangle incentives for hitting sales targets or achieving productivity goals. While that tactic certainly creates immediate results, you’re often only reaching the ‘rainmakers’. Which leads to core performers (who consistently produce solid results) feeling unmotivated to improve their efforts because you’re only rewarding top performers. Choose instead to reward milestones that reflect personal growth and improvements. You’ll still drive a culture of excellence.

3. January rewards

Hit the refresh button on your rewards at the start of each year and you’ll be able to correctly align with your current business objectives. This process has two aspects. One, asking your employees what they want/value the most (cash, gym membership, travel vouchers, restaurant credits, flexible working hours, etc.). And two, being transparent about your own strategic goals. That way you can offer perks and rewards that fuel your employees, but also benefit your business.

4. Spot rewards

Scientists have found that rewarding in the moment forever bonds people to that experience (this has to do with the brain’s reward centres in relation to how emotional connections are formed). Spot rewards are literally a direct line to the heart of your staff. And they don’t have to be expensive. Most organisations initiate this idea using a points system or create a budget for gift cards that link to an online shopping mall.

5. Hand-written notes

The trends around personalisation are reaching fever pitch (for both consumer and employee engagement). This has to do with the data revolution. With access to so much information, companies are now able to answer to the exact preferences of their audience. Your employees will expect that kind of treatment too. Not every business can afford to invest in data-driven technology. A personal note can have incredible, lasting effects. Especially if done with sincerity.

6. Wellness rewards

According to OfficeTeam, 79% of men and 65% of women consider health and wellness in their employment decisions. Using rewards to help your employees maintain healthy behaviours has a knock-on effect. There’ll be fewer sick days, employees will have a more positive outlook, and they’ll feel like you care about their overall well-being. The latter being something that builds on employee loyalty, which directly impacts productivity. Examples are rewarding healthy eating choices, giving away personal training sessions, facilitating mindfulness moments, and providing relaxation pods.

7. Rewarding with time

In a recent survey by US office supply giant, Staples, 67% of workers said they would consider leaving their job if work arrangements became rigid. More and more, we’re seeing that people value a flexible working environment. However, many organisations lack the resources to manage a remote workforce. If that’s you, aim to create rewards that give people moments of freedom. Recognise staff who go the extra mile (and show they can self-regulate) by giving them a day in the week where they can work from home.

8. Service awards

Giving a gold watch may have gone out of fashion, but it’s still important to show your employees that you’re proud of them and all they’ve accomplished in their time with you. Especially given the fact that Millennials tend to move from job to job much faster than their predecessors. When you choose to recognise employee milestones, you’re creating an office culture around celebrating wins together.

Creating moments that matter

The right type of reward. An understanding of the audience (your employees). A strategy that aligns with business objectives. Those are the ingredients for a successful rewards program. One that matters (because your employees are happy) and is effective (because your recognition strategy is driving an increase in your revenue).

Motivating employees is a science. Keeping employees engaged is an art form that relies heavily on the way you manage your rewards. And if you’re not seeing results in your bottom line, that’s because you’re either not leveraging the correct/best reward moments. Or you haven’t figured out how employee engagement data correlates with the numbers on your balance sheet.

Ready to do recognition right? Get in touch today and we’ll help you find the best rewards moments for your team.


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