Opinion

Should you tip your staff for a job well done?

5 min read

09 May 2019

There’s been many a half-baked and barmy idea to emerge from HR departments over the years and rewards schemes are just the latest examples. Whilst it sounds like a great idea to tip your staff for a job well done, could it lead to abuse?

Now, before I’m inundated with complaints from HR professionals up and down the land, I completely accept they perform an important and vital role in the success of many a firm. But this latest trend to introduce a system where staff effectively tip colleagues for a job well done is merely a twist on the well-established company bonus system and, more importantly, is open to abuse.

While I support the need to recognise and reward those who go above and beyond in their job, I question whether getting two or three quid – especially if it’s all in small change – is really going to add much in the encouragement stakes.

As an apprentice plumber, I remember receiving all the motivation I needed from an odd word of praise from the boss or perhaps a paid-for cuppa in the cafe at the end of a long day. It was enough for me to know that I was doing a good job and this was both recognised and appreciated.

Peer-to-peer tipping: Will it divide employees?

These days co-workers are being provided with a rewards budget and the ability to tip each other modest amounts to reflect their good work. I think there’s a danger this practice might divide staff, creating little cliques of pals who constantly reward each other, especially when they’re a bit short in the wallet when it’s their turn for the coffee run.

There’s also a fear that some more unscrupulous businesses might just use it as an excuse to do away with their official bonus scheme, leading to ill will. And what about those who do great work but, for one reason or another, aren’t ever going to win a popularity contest. Will they attract the people’s vote even when they are outstanding employees?

The most important point is that this system takes the management completely out of the exercise, so they stand less of a chance of learning about a fantastic piece of work. According to one US provider Bonusly, it has seen a 75% increase in UK businesses using its services in the past year to set up tip schemes, translating into 250 firms.

Do employee rewards really promote good behaviour?

One of its co-founders believes it helps employees form good habits when it comes to recognising each other’s contributions. However, this is Britain, not the USA, and I think workers on this side of the pond will end up feeling a little patronised – like their bosses can’t recognise their efforts properly.

What we do at Pimlico Plumbers

Here at Pimlico Plumbers, I’ve introduced a long-standing Employees (note NOT employee) of the Month initiative boasting 18 categories.

Each receives £200 to spend at Langan’s Brasserie or £200 worth of vouchers to use on the extensive range of Pimlico Merchandise. This does include my own excellent biography but, as yet, I don’t think its been selected by any of the recipients – but no hard feelings!

Employees should want to do well, with or without having rewards on the table

However, I do expect my people to put in a good shift and be able to deliver high standards in whatever they do, and that’s why I’ve introduced a range of benefits over the years which are available to all. Initiatives like the subsidised canteen, the Pimlico gym, free in-house massage sessions and our company’s lavish annual cruise and Christmas party.

They are all appreciated and more importantly play an important part in retaining and attracting employees. These initiatives are more than just a pat on the head and a few pounds. This is about staff knowing they are valued by the business both individually and as a workforce.

Some of you will say this type of approach provides a free ride for underperforming staff, but that’s where the management comes in to identify weaknesses and provide the necessary support for them to succeed.

What really builds motivation is not being taken for granted and bosses of SMEs always being willing to reward their staff for their efforts. Whether that’s a kind word or a financial reward. But no tips!