The government’s offer of a “derisory” pay rise for NHS staff has provoked a bitterly disappointed response from Nurses. Nurses believe the recognition their work has received during the pandemic ought to be reflected in their pay award. They are not alone, Covid-19 has challenged traditional thinking as many low paid areas of work became classified as key workers providing essential services at considerable risk to their health. So will COVID-19 change attitudes to pay and reward?
Both my daughter and my son recently received cash bonuses as a reward for outstanding work. One works in a public sector organisation the other in the private sector. The bonuses were modest, roughly the equivalent of two weeks pay, they were however received as tangible recognition of their efforts on behalf of their respective organisations. Both have benefited from the training opportunities their employers offer and both enjoy generous paid annual leave. Both work for managers they consider supportive and appreciative. Both have worked through out the pandemic. And both consider their long term future lies with the organisation they currently work for.
The experience of my son and daughter backs up research evidence which indicates that pay and reward arrangements can enhance employee engagement and thereby support improved business performance whether in the public or private sector. There is general agreement the whilst it is difficult to measure the effectiveness of rewards two key measures are staff turn over and staff satisfaction. To summarise research findings the general conclusions offer no surprises.
If an organisation wants to score high on on these indicators it should pay the going rate and have a bonus scheme for exceptional performance whilst offering a range of other non financial be benefits such as training opportunities, flexible working and more generous sick pay. In addition organisations shouldn’t underestimate the value of praise and a “thank you” note, part of establishing a positive work environment (which is very much determined by the individuals line manager). And we know people leave managers not organisations.
The pandemic has brought a change in how some low paid work is valued by both employers and the wider society. Groups identified during the pandemic as key workers can expect to be part of a shift away from performance driven rewards to that of a focus on fair pay. And quite right to.