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More than reward

An effective reward and recognition strategy is a major part of what keeps employees engaged. Lisa Wynn, director and master certified coach at Corporate Potential, guides.

In my experience one of the most effective ways to build retention is to have managers who make a day to day difference to employees’ experience of the workplace. Investing in effective training of coaching skills for managers for instance, means that their teams are treated with respect and are therefore more readily open to challenge and developmental feedback.

This everyday relationship of trust and challenge can be exciting for team members. To ensure the continuity and sustainability of this method of working, the company’s investment in reward and retention needs to be targeted at the managers doing the coaching. This means that the resources used to deliver reward and recognition are easier to target and more cost effective. Team members are rewarded with great managers and a fantastic work environment, plus the managers can also be rewarded for their continuing efforts in leadership.

Firstly, be very clear about what it is they are being recognised for and be thorough and consistent in your measurement of this. In terms of being thorough, ensure inclusivity in your assessment processes. Involve those who are on the receiving end of the managers’ treatment in the decision about whether they have achieved their objectives.

For example, if coaching skills are being measured, then the direct reports from the manager in question could be requested to complete a monthly or quarterly informal questionnaire. The important element of this process is of course that the organisation has identified those managerial behaviours that will have the biggest impact on the current main drivers. The questionnaires don’t need to be used long term and in fact the business impact is multiplied by a regular change in focus, showing that the managers and their senior management are dynamic and fluid in their approach to people management.

Incentivise with friendly competition and reward systems
When working with individuals within large organisations we most commonly hear that the individuals desire the recognition above even the financial reward. Natural competitiveness can be leveraged with ‘coach of the month’ type awards but then only one person can win. Instead, a monthly recognition system building to an annual reward system, would allow each individual to get a monthly recognition boost to their momentum.

Remember to also incentivise those who are expected to provide their monthly feedback. They will quickly come to expect the great working atmosphere and start to see it as an everyday action rather than any kind of reward to themselves. So make sure that there is an opportunity to reward and/or recognise those foot soldiers doing the monthly chore of assessing their managers.

Don’t keep your employees in the dark
Many employees complain that they are rarely aware of what is happening or planned in the company. If employees are frequently left out of company-related discussions they will fill in the gaps for themselves, making assumptions and creating stories to fill in the blanks. When people feel scared and isolated they are less likely to be at their most productive – and more likely to end up jumping ship.

Show your employees that they are appreciated
We’re all human and love being appreciated for the work we do so make sure your staff realise how grateful you are for their efforts. Even though we are being rewarded financially for our work a ‘thank you’ costs nothing and your staff will see that they are individually contributing to the organisation’s success and are not just another number.

Get to know your employees better
When we coach individuals the complaint that we hear the most is that people feel that their strengths are underutilised or go unnoticed. Human beings love to feel valuable and that they are contributing to a bigger picture than themselves. Ask them which of their strengths they would like to see developed by the company.

Take time to find out what makes your staff tick
Find out what motivates your staff; even if it’s a slice of chocolate cake or a beer on a Friday afternoon after work, it will go a long way to making them feel valued. Talk to them about what would incentivise them – there’s no point in introducing free gym membership as a staff incentive if they’re not interested in getting fit and would rather have a night out.

Don’t neglect supporting your co-workers
A culture of support breeds a culture of retention. People stay in an organisation that is fun and rewarding personally. In the long term overly competitive compensation schemes and team dynamics gets exhausting and can lead to companies losing a lot of talent to more rewarding workplaces. A truly successful business is not in fact made up of a series of successful personal performances.

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