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Imagine if your employees were passionate custodians of your company values.

Those core business principles are meant to be a kind of guiding force, but often they’re inaccessible to staff. Mainly because company values tend to lie dormant as words on a page. (Or maybe you have them up on a wall somewhere?) 

To get your employees to develop a deep connection with the guiding principles that govern your organisation, you need to make them tangible. One way of doing that is to curate rewards that mirror and motivate the behaviours which support your values.

Now, your organisation is a unique entity and your values represent that fact, but there are always central themes/trends that govern the way we all work. And those principles are undergoing some dramatic changes at the moment.

When it comes to developing rewards that support and strengthen how employees feel about, and hopefully, embody your values, it’s important to take a look around. With that in mind, we’ve put together a philosophical cheat sheet of sorts. Taking you through some need-to-know workplace and motivation factors you should be considering in 2020.

No more “high-priced men”

In his industrial efficiency book, Principles of Scientific Management (1911), Frederick Winslow Taylor called for a complete mental revolution in US industry. He believed that it was important to find the one best way to do a job. That involved figuring out the optimum work pace, ensuring staff were skilled and trained correctly, and rewarded through an incentive system.

Taylor also talked about “a high-priced man”, who he said, “does just what he’s told to do and no back talk.” To say that his approach to human capital management was scientific in nature is an understatement. But he was part of a movement towards productivity, cooperation and motivation that we’ve carried with us to this day.

Like it or not, it’s that kind of thinking that shaped the Western world. For a long time, many employment engagement specialists looked down their nose at the cold-hearted approach Taylor and his consorts took to work. But our appreciation of logic over emotions has since evolved into a brave new world that is only just taking shape. Today, the focus is on creating a culture that reflects company values and supports employee engagement.

Key point: Much of Taylor’s approach to productivity is still pretty pertinent today, but we do know better when it comes to human capital management.

An automated and human-centric way to work

At the moment we’re in the middle of the 4th Industrial Revolution – a period of disruptive change. Driven mainly by technological advancement and machine learning, it’s creating a shift in the way we work.

Predictions say that up to 47% of jobs in the future will be automated. But while digitisation and artificial intelligence rule, humans still have a massive role to play. As Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, says; “The future is not preordained by machines. It’s created by humans.”

Key point: Leaders, managers and in fact your entire workforce will need to hone their EQ if they’re to stay relevant.

Cutting to the heart of employee and organisational values

If you’re looking for something to hold onto in today’s ever-changing business landscape, human values are the key.

Richard Barrett, international thought leader in values-driven organisational transformation and development explains:

“Values are at the heart of human decision‐making. When we work in an organisation whose culture aligns with our personal values, we are able to bring our full selves to work. We not only bring our energy, our creativity, and our enthusiasm, we also bring our commitment to the well‐being of our associates and the overall success of the organisation. Unleashing this energy is tantamount to liberating the corporate soul.”

Key point: Your employees’ personal values are a source of human capital, particularly when they align with your organisational values.

The right rewards create meaning

There was a time when rewards were flat incentives that acted like carrots dangled in front of employees to motivate the achievement of specific goals. Now the focus is more on providing multi-dimensional, reward experiences. The kind that recognise achievement, but also create a sense of meaning, belonging, and self-worth.

Today, rewards can and should resonate with your values and, in turn, align with employees’ personal values.

Creating that type of alignment starts with understanding the multiple drivers of human behaviour. This sounds complicated, but in 2010 Paul Lawrence and Nitin Nohria (together with Harvard Business School) developed the The Four Drive Model, which distills all human behaviour down to four needs.

Their theory states that at any one time, people will feel the need to:

Acquire – money, power, trophies, cars, material possessions

Defend – that which we think belongs to us

Bond – as in form relationships, connect, engage and interact with others

Create – learn new skills, explore new experiences and follow our curiosity

Those drives to acquire, defend, bond and create summon powerful emotions in us. Behavioural science tells us that those emotions can influence our actions and decision-making processes.

So, in theory, if you curate rewards that appeal to those drivers – hey presto – you forge lasting connections with employees and deepen their loyalty towards your business values.

Get to know your employees

The Four Drive Model offers a great foundation, but begs the question, what do my employees want to acquire, defend, bond with and create?

Susan Peters, Senior Vice President, Human Resources at General Electric says that “We define employee experience simply as seeing the world through the eyes of our employees, staying connected, and being aware of their major milestones.” In today’s data-driven workplaces, with access to people analytics and behavioural data, you can reward personally and purposefully with relative ease. And if you don’t have access to that kind of technology, there are always pulse surveys and personal feedback to guide you.

Key point: Personal, meaningful and memorable reward experiences are the most effective.

A human-centred approach drives business results too

In the current climate of prolific, technological change, human-centric solutions are the name of the game. Much like your customers, employees are seeking authentic brand experiences. They want to connect with you.

Studies show that happy employees are 20% more productive than unhappy ones. What this highlights is that there’s more to business than making money. Your bottom line is critical. But as economic progress goes, you’re nothing without an energised workforce.

Reinforced values = success

If the power of corporate values lies in their ability to inform, guide and unite people, then finding ways to weave your ethos, beliefs and corporate behaviours into your rewards program is a winning formula.

There is no other company quite like yours. You, your offering and your employees are a unique ecosystem. If you’re able to express your authentic brand story through your rewards, you’ll forge powerful connections. The result? An aligned and emotionally invested workforce. Priceless.

At GET Rewards, we take the heavy-lifting out of reward curation. Get in touch today and let’s talk about how we can align your incentives with your company values.


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