Staff appreciation both massively affects the culture of an individual workplace and is simultaneously shaped by it.  In fact it is so closely linked with company culture that it is almost impossible to disentangle the two.  A business that ranks staff appreciation low on its list of priorities is likely to see a lacklustre office environment and a high level of indifference in staff attitudes towards the company and each other.  Conversely companies that actively reward and thank their staff will directly boost motivation and morale, leading to a positive and productive atmosphere, attracting like-minded employees and a sense of teamwork.

Between these two extremes is a myriad of values and approaches that embrace varying degrees of staff appreciation and the inevitable company cultures that go hand-in-hand.  Businesses are unlikely to have defined or structured rewards initiatives from start-up, but pertinent attitudes and beliefs can be built into a company’s foundation to develop as it grows.  In the beginning, of course, rewards are unlikely to be monetary, and this is where personal interaction is of the utmost importance.  It’s about creating good feeling and driving loyalty, so that your staff want your company to succeed as much as you do.  When it’s done right this can create an overwhelming sense of teamwork, as everyone is working for a positive common goal.This can be a delicate balance, as some may feel that rewards are unnecessary when you’re simply doing the job you get paid for.  However there is a difference between recognising when some ‘goes the extra mile’ compared to doing enough to get by.  In fact the benefits of recognising this can be twofold, rewarding and further motivating the over-achievers whilst encouraging slower staff members to pick up the pace without having to remonstrate with them.

Even as companies grow, this face to face form of recognition remains important to staff relationships and maintaining a personal touch.  However, if rewards stay hidden behind closed doors or aren’t celebrated then staff can actually begin to feel less appreciated and, as a company, you lose the opportunity to shout about your successes.  Publicising staff rewards promotes the feelgood factor for individuals and also highlights company culture to other staff members and the outside world, nurturing and attracting talent.  If employees know about the rewards that exceptional performance can reap, they will be more driven to work towards them.

As companies grow, finding an appropriate way to recognise and reward staff can become a challenge.  Tracking and measuring performance across an expanding workforce is not necessarily straightforward, not to mention establishing a uniform programme that everyone can work and strive within.  This is where bespoke incentives companies become invaluable, providing expert advice on the structures and set ups that can accomplish this.

That’s not to say that the personal touch should be abandoned, but rather that it takes place alongside a programme that is accessible to all and provides tangible rewards.  An established, positive company culture can make the set up of these programmes much easier, as staff tend to be more receptive and therefore keen to buy into in their new route to rewards.

Contemporary rewards programmes are often run online through an e-system.  Not only does this enhance tracking, monitoring and policing a system, but it can actually help to maintain the face to face element.  As companies grow it can be tricky for senior staff members to maintain people engagement throughout the workforce, and virtually impossible to keep one-to-one personal relationships with all staff members.  Online systems help to track exactly who is due what, for example a long service award, so that reminders are set up and alerts sent online, allowing the reward or recognition to then be presented personally.  When used thoughtfully, the introduction of technology can actually enhance personal interaction!

Whatever rewards system you ultimately decide upon, it’s important to do the research.  Different approaches suit different company cultures, so it’s important to know what your staff base will respond to.  Of course, HR departments are always busy tackling a multitude of issues, particularly at the moment with auto-enrolment requiring attention.  However, it doesn’t change the fact that this is an enormously worthwhile endeavour to achieve 360 engagement and help the company reap long term benefits, and as such, shouldn’t be ignored.

The best incentives systems will be adaptable and built to fit your particular needs, so that you can introduce them with little or no complications. Modular systems can include peer to peer recognition, manager awards and long service awards, so there are a number of levels on which a reward could be achieved and given, making them all the more accessible.  These can even include gamification to keep engagement levels high and maintain staff satisfaction.  Additionally, online systems help to support performance reviews, reporting and auditing, so company processes can be incorporated seamlessly.

Fitting a rewards programme to compliment your company culture is so important, and provides an ideal opportunity to consider exactly the sorts of rewards that will realistically work for you, such as breakfast with a Director, golden cone parking, upgrades for business travel or an extra day’s holiday. Indeed, non-monetary rewards may better reflect your company ethos and create a longstanding feelgood factor.

Whether enhancing an incumbent incentives programme or beginning afresh from phase one, it’s never too late to make a difference.  And if you are a company who is making that effort, it’s safe to say that your company culture must be in good shape or all set to improve!

 

By Sean Wilkinson – Managing Director, Corporate Rewards