Do your employees enjoy their work environment? This is a question every good manager or business owner should ask periodically. A happy worker is more productive and more likely to stay put; low company morale and turnover hurt the overall success of any business. Moreover, it’s never been easier for people to job hunt. Employment web sites and social media networks provide workers with an almost endless list of new jobs and opportunities, not to mention recruitment firms and headhunters. To keep a happy workforce, it’s important for employers to offer effective incentives to their people. Consider these ideas.
- Be creative, but not kooky or conceited. It’s great to think of creative ways to motivate workers, such keeping an office pet to make the workplace more fun, or organizing office games like voting on the Super Bowl winner. However, employees can spot gimmicks or incentives they know aren’t worthwhile. For instance, a “Lunch and Learn” that doesn’t offer lunch, or a coupon for a cheap restaurant most people could pick up themselves won’t impress. A copy of the CEO’s biography for a job well done can seem more conceited than motivating. If you are going to offer an incentive, offer something the person will really value and appreciate. If you need some ideas, ask your employees what gestures, perks or options they would like.
- Support wellness. With aging baby boomers, and the large percentage of people overweight in our country, physical fitness and general wellness are hot topics. But like everything, wellness comes at a cost – gyms, nutritionists, chiropractors – all cost money. One perk more companies are offering is a health and wellness program. This can save the company money in the long run when it comes to health insurance premiums since healthy employees typically file less health insurance claims. Companies can offer discounted gym memberships or even construct a gym or walking track that can be used during lunch breaks or off-hours.
- Remember the classics. Almost all employees appreciate a free meal, a day off, a nicer snack room, an annual bonus, a Christmas or birthday card and even a more comfortable chair. Keep the classics in place; they do the job of letting employees know they are appreciated.
- Be flexible. Offering flexible hours and a telecommuting option can be a huge incentive for some employees – especially for those who have long commutes, family responsibilities and spend most of their time on the computer or phone. With today’s technology, a workday from home can be just as productive, if not more so at times, than one spent in a noisy office. Plus your employee can enjoy the benefit of working in their favorite chair, and in their pajamas for that matter.
- Familiarity breeds liking. Psychologists have found that the more time people spend around each other, especially if they are making good memories, the more they like that person or group. It’s called “The Exposure Effect.” Managers can put this dynamic to work by planning social events for their employees. A company party where employees can socialize, a retreat where they can relax while brainstorming, a round of drinks for a job well done – all these are good examples of how managers can use the exposure effect to their advantage.
- It’s in the little things. Don’t underestimate the power of small gestures such as writing a thank you note, asking about your employee’s family, or pointing out a job well done at the company meeting or in your business’ newsletter. Little things like this go a long way and are easy for a manager to do. And they are free!
- Put your money where your mouth is. People love the note, the pat on the back or the free meal. But a well-placed bonus or raise can give an employee enough mojo to cruise happily along for months if not the year. The saying is true – in the end, money talks, and for employees it says “I value you, I recognize your contribution, and I want you to stay and keep doing a great job.”