It is often said that excellent employees are the best asset of an organization. But the question is, do they feel that? Do they feel appreciated enough to keep them motivated and perform well? Do they feel like their contribution matters so that they’ll choose to stay even when another company offers them a better salary package? Unfortunately, cash compensation alone will not foster this kind of loyalty. A better alternative is to build a corporate reward program that’s relevant and suitable for your people. Here are 6 things you can look into to get you started.
Start with the Right Values
The distinct characteristic of an effective reward system is that it’s able to meld both the employees’ and the organization’s values. In other words, you start by asking, "What are the things that your employees put a high premium on?" And what are the company's goals that you wish to achieve by having the reward program? Answering these questions requires you to delve deep and really get to know your employees. At the same time, it communicates clearly to them that the organization’s goal is not so far removed from their own.
For example, a recent study shows that millennials prefer to spend on experiences than material things. So if you have lots of millennial employees, tickets to events of their choice might be a better reward than the latest gadgets. Bottom line is, the more you know your employees, the more you can spur them to work towards your organization’s goals.
Focus on Social Recognition
Learn from the Oscars. The reasons many top-notch actors go to great lengths to snag an Oscars is prestige and social recognition—the very same things that could compel your employees to put in their best performance. Just like the Oscars, you can have your people nominate and vote for their peers for specific awards. Make the awards limited to make it prestigious. And then, host an award ceremony where the winners are recognized and rewarded.
Walt Disney World has done exactly the same thing with their Disney Legacy Award. And the reason this worked so well is that employees are given a voice in the award with every vote that they cast. Thus, even if they don’t win, they’re still a part of the process and this can foster a sense of ownership. Most of all, social recognition is a very potent reward. Being recognized by your bosses and peers for a job well done brings a sense of fulfillment. Either way, you’ve given the right motivation for your people to strive to perform better.
Reward Behavior, Not Just Performance
Employees are more inclined to reward performance, possibly since performance are easily quantified and identified. For instance, you can give incentives to agents who made the most sale.
However, if you’re trying to go for long-term reward program benefits, you need to look into how you can also reward behavior. And this can be more challenging because you need to identify key behaviors that help propel your company’s goals. You can overcome this challenge by constantly asking yourself, “What kind of workplace do I wish to cultivate for the long-term?” and “What are the behaviors that contribute to this end?”
If your organization is big on innovation, then you can even reward failure. This may seem absurd from a management standpoint. But think about it. You’re not rewarding performance at all. You’re rewarding creativity and bravery to encourage your people to attempt something without any guarantee of success. This will create an office culture where people aren’t afraid to try new ideas because no one’s out to get them when they fail. This approach will be very effective particularly if you, as the leader, can commit to be more engaged with your staff.
Don't Overlook Team Effort
In an age of individualistic society, less emphasis is given to team achievements. However, you can’t deny the fact that the company’s progress is a result of different teams’ effort. Thus, it’s only logical that you also have corporate rewards for team achievement. Not only will this boost the team members’ morale, this will also foster a culture of cooperation between team members.
Dinner out at a local restaurant, free team outing, or bonuses are some of the great ways you can reward exemplary teams. To avoid free-riding, team rewards must be given in conjunction with individual rewards.
Hit Two Birds With One Stone
Mastery of a skill is its own reward. And apparently, many employees, particularly millenials, would agree since a good 59% of them say that opportunities to learn and develop are one of their top three considerations when applying for a job. Training your people is always a wise investment. But instead of giving it as a mandatory practice, you can repackage it to be a reward reserved for the deserving few.
People always put more value into something that’s not easily attained. Top companies like Starbucks and OshKosh Corporation has done this with their continuing education program. OshKosh offers tuition reimbursement to deserving employees who want to pursue an MBA or earn another degree. Starbucks offers free college tuition to junior and senior employees who wish to earn their degree through Arizona State University’s online programs.
While once-a-year all-expense paid holiday sounds like such a motivating reward, the reality is that only one or two employees can earn such grand rewards. And most likely, they’re people at the time of the corporate ladder. An inclusive approach to corporate reward is better because it gives everyone a fighting chance to be recognized for their progress.
To roll this out, you can set milestones with corresponding points. Your employees can accumulate their points and use it to redeem rewards of their choice. Rewards can range from a simple cup of coffee or meal for two to extravagant offers like free round-trip tickets to Hawaii.
When you make your employees feel appreciated, you’ve made great strides towards creating a happy workplace. And a suitable corporate rewards program is a tangible way to express your gratitude that’s most likely reciprocated with excellent performance, increased productivity and company loyalty—things that make for a great organization.