You pay your employees a good salary, but that isn’t the end of your role in rewarding their efforts and hard work. There is a trend towards providing new and existing employees with more options and opportunities to choose employee benefits above and beyond their pay packet.
It’s a smart idea when looked at as a full equation: employee motivation plus productivity equals great business results and a stronger, more positive organisational culture. And the best way to increase that motivation and productivity is with good, old-fashioned appreciation of their work.
Not everyone is on board with this idea, however. Research from American Express suggests that 80% of Australian small businesses believe they can’t afford to reward their staff. But before you say your business can’t afford to provide benefits to your employees, consider the following as a bigger picture view:
We’re not talking about pay rises or bonuses here. Research by social scientist Alfie Kohn tells us that money isn’t the top motivator for people: it falls around fifth or sixth on their list. Instead think outside the box; even the smallest tokens of appreciation for hard work can make a real difference to your employee retention and productivity levels.
If you think you can’t afford to provide benefits or rewards to your staff, think of it this way: can you afford not to? The costs of staff turnover, and indirect costs such as a lack of productivity, can cause harm to your bottom line (and organisational culture) in a far greater way than some simple employee benefits.
When recruiting new staff, you’re competing against other organisations who offer innovative benefits and sometimes these are the employers of choice, despite lower salaries at times. How can you compete with this?
There are many types of benefits you can offer that are completely free; see our ideas below.
Think about your recognition structures
In our e-book, Building Your Dream Team, we reveal that what employees want most of all is a sense of fulfilment and recognition. This means that before throwing yourself into developing an employee benefits scheme, you should consider your recognition programs. Ask yourself:
- What are you doing to recognise your employees’ hard work and efforts?
- What are you doing to encourage them to continue them to put in more of that hard work?
- What opportunities are you taking to provide your employees with feedback?
- What would your employees say if they were asked about their efforts being recognised?
- What are the types of efforts, outputs and behaviours you believe to be worth recognising (and then rewarding)?
- This analysis of your recognition process is the first step to ensuring the benefits you offer are in line with your organisational values. It’s only then that your employee benefits can have a strong impact on your culture and the outlook of your staff.
Redii can help you develop beneficial rewards and recognition programs in line with your organisation’s strategies.
Consider the benefits you’d like to offer
In order for a benefit to have impact upon your employees, it must have, well, a benefit to them. Giving your employees something meaningful to aim towards creates a team of more engaged, loyal, happy and productive people.
There are many creative ways to enhance the employee benefits you offer. Some examples of these include:
In recent lists of the best places to work, companies like Dutch-owned algorithm trader, Optiva, fare well. Why? Because they provide support to their employees during all stages of their employment. It all begins with the benefit of a ‘buddy’ when they first start, meaning an employee feels valued right from their first day. Companies like this are proof that it’s often the easy benefits, and a creation of a supportive environment, that are the most impactful.
Promoting health and wellbeing is a strong focus for many organisations in recent times – after all, healthy employees are important to your business. Research from Mercer showed that organisations are doing innovative things to encourage well being, including the implementation of a ‘doona day’: providing employees with an additional day off each year for their replenishment and mental health.
One Australian software development company, Atlassian, offers employees the most simple, yet effective, of benefits: fun. With pool table meetings, nerf gun fights in the office and free lunches, it’s considered not just a cool place to work but an employer who values its people’s state of mind. This is a great strategy to mix things up a bit, particularly if you’re in an industry that requires long days in front of screens or work of a heavily serious nature.
Corporate volunteering is a new take on employee benefits, with rewards for three parties: the employee, your business and, importantly, the organisation for whom they are volunteering. A study by the Macquarie Graduate School of Management found that corporate volunteering – that is, time off work to give back to the community – increases employee engagement, organisational commitment, job satisfaction and retention rates. This is an example of giving employees the chance to better themselves and feel as though they’re making a meaningful difference through their employment with you.
Don’t know what your employees want to be rewarded with? Ask!
Did you know 44% of employees believe their manager has no idea what motivates them to be productive? The only real way to know what people want is to ask what gifts they would choose (perhaps with some boundaries set in the choices available to them) and set about providing items from their ‘wish list’ as they meet targets or put in the hard yards.
If your budget is tight, consider these free options for rewarding your employees:
Feedback and positive reinforcement are the simplest, cheapest ways to make your employees feel their hard work is worthwhile. Take the time to provide regular encouragement and thanks (make it a daily part of your work life) to your team members, and watch their smiles and levels of engagement grow.
Providing opportunities for employees to share their achievements is a great way of showing them their contributions are valued. It also fosters a culture of peer recognition – and that’s priceless.
Offering flexible work arrangements often doesn’t cost you anything. If an employee needs to shift their working hours back an hour in order to do school drop off, or work from home for one day a week, for example, then they’ll appreciate this as a benefit of working for you.