HR & Management

Rewarding staff – in it for the long-term

5 min read

18 March 2014

Recent research reveals that just one in ten people feel more positive about their job as a result of the improving economy. This sentiment has a significant impact on motivation levels within a business – an issue which many organisations should be planning to address.

How can businesses boost engagement levels? Well, a quick fix isn’t the answer. Many businesses fall into the quick fix trap, planning only for the short term. When rewarding staff, this is no exception. A short-term reward scheme serves to provide an immediate boost for staff, but will not deliver results in the long run. Companies should be wary of taking a short term view instead of considering activity and objectives over a longer period.

Why? According to Edward Beale, chief executive of The City Group PLC, “the challenge is to design something that not only motivates the person but doesn’t reward failure and incentivises them to do the right things, whatever the individual circumstances of the company. Usually, those right things are about growing long-term value and, in those circumstances, it makes sense for incentives to be weighted toward the achievement of long-term value.”

If businesses want their reward schemes to be consistently more effective, they need to consider investing in ‘long termism’. Giving employees rewards which generate a long-term positive effect on their appreciation of the company can prove invaluable for maintaining momentum within a business and ensuring staff remain focused on goals. Incentives which deliver long-term satisfaction serve to remind the employee of their employer and the success that led to their reward, on an ongoing basis, thereby reinforcing the motivation and engagement with the company.

The challenges that many businesses face when planning and delivering reward schemes is what type of reward to offer. Businesses need to devote time to considering this, taking into account the different requirements and lifestyles of staff and the different impacts that various rewards make upon them. After all, an incentive that is attractive to a single graduate worker may not appeal to a working parent – if it is considered inappropriate, the impact will be lost and resources wasted.

Rewards that deliver short term impact have little resonance. Will a pair of shoes bought with a department store voucher increase staff respect for the company? Probably not, because these type of rewards are all too easily overlooked.

A quick fix is not going to do the trick. Monetary rewards are all too easily lost and swallowed up in bills. They may be satisfying at the time, but won’t have any long-lasting impact, meaning the message they seek to communicate is rendered ineffective and the impact lost.

Giving employees the chance to opt for memorable rewards which have an enduring impact and benefit their lives shows that the business recognition of staff extends to both their short and long term needs. This ‘long termism’ approach illustrates that employer acknowledgement and appreciation of employees is on-going. This, in turn, helps to promote a positive atmosphere at work, leading to higher engagement levels and ultimately healthy bottom line.

The incentive chosen will vary for each employee. After all, a ‘one size fits all’ approach to rewarding people as part of a motivation scheme does not achieve the full potential of the programme. A gift that will be attractive to a single graduate worker may not appeal to a working parent and if the gift is inappropriate, the impact will be lost and resources wasted. When planning a motivation scheme, businesses must take into account the different requirements of employees, considering lifestyle, status and family situation.

Fortunately, there are numerous incentives that fit the bill when it comes to delivering long term impact. Here are just a few:

  • Educational training to boost knowledge and career development;
  • Courses to develop personal skills such as learning a language or musical instrument;
  • Sporting activities or body boosters such as massages which can benefit long term health;
  • Days out and experiences which can be shared with other people as part of quality time with friends and family; and
  • Investing in the home and garden to help increase the value of a property and create a calming retreat to relax in after work.

Long term rewards, when planned and carried out effectively, can achieve great impact and ultimately boost the business bottom line. When it comes to employee engagement, it pays for businesses to consider ‘long termism’.

Natalie Vescia is B2B Marketing and Client Relationship Manager at Wickes.

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