Whenever morale decreases or there is room in the budget for things besides the basics, the idea of employee rewards are something management begins to think about. As a former Human Capital consultant, my feeling is that employee morale is never something that should be put on the back burner, because our people are our business. Literally. And while I do understand the constraints of business, there are often things management can do for employee morale that cost very little.
Some of these suggestions will only apply to union or non-union employees, but use them or adjust accordingly.
1) Rewarding Performance With a Pre-Paid Cards: This works for both union and non union employees. However, normally unions will only allow incentives to be used as a reward for contribution of ideas in the employee suggestion box. When creating this type of reward, make sure to ask those in your target group, what types of rewards work for them. For example, when I was working as a management consultant at Deloitte, our firm often gave us Starbucks gift certificates. We were very happy with these. Around the same time, I was working with customer service representatives at a client. They said Starbucks cards did not interest them but places like Circle K did because that?s where they bought their gas, and gas cards for their favorite gas stations was much more important than coffee.
Therefore, when choosing a reward, make sure the reward is something your target audience will value and be excited about receiving.
2) Rewarding Group Performance with In-House Lunch: With union employees it is often difficult to reward just the top performers. I have always been in organizations that suggestion box participation was about the only thing someone could be rewarded for individually if the idea was used. So, to reward the groups, we started giving the entire department a goal for the week or month. And when/if we hit those target goals, lunch was provided for the staff. Yes, this did require someone from the department, an admin or a manager to order lunch and go pick it up. And it also required the admin or someone to occasionally have to purchase paper products, soft drinks etc. for the lunches. But it was a great way to motivate our entire team, for relatively little money. In a way that was allowed under union regulations.
Lunch or dinner is generally a great way to reward non-union employees as well. Everyone has to eat. And providing lunch is a treat for most people that saves them some money and time in the process. Obviously, making sure dietary restrictions are met is also key. But shouldn?t take more than a few minutes of the department?s admin?s time to figure out.
If lunch is too pricey because of the number of people in you organization, try donuts or baked goods once a month on Fridays. When you send out the email, let everyone know this is a thank you to them for all their hard work.
3) Schedule Flexibility: This costs nothing, but makes some managers and owners very uncomfortable, because it requires a level of trust with their employees. Which is why it is generally best used for salaried employes. A lot of employees would love some flexibility in their schedule when possible, and/or the ability to work from home one or more days a month. If you think about it, given how plugged into everything we are these days, this is probably happening in your offices already. Allowing everyone to do this, instead of just a few people, will enable consistency through the workplace. Yes it requires management to have trust in their employees. And yes, it requires that there is good communication and project management tools in place to accomplish this. But these are things you should have anyway. And most everyone I talk with is surprised at how much MORE they accomplish on their workdays at home.
Side note: For over 12 years I have been managing projects and people that are either fully or partially working remotely. Almost everyone works well in this situation. However some require a morning meeting to get them focused. And others will simply tell you flat out that they need to drive into an office to do work. Most employees who liked the idea, but had trouble with the lack of routine, were easily put into the routine by getting up, getting dressed, heading to their local coffee shop and then heading home to work. Every one is different, and having this type of arrangement does require flexibility and communication with those who implement it. But in my opinion, leads to a happier, more productive workforce.
What are some other ways you have found to motivate your employees?