Guest Blog: Employee Engagement Gets Serious - Colin Hodgson, Sales Director for Edenred UK "Much has been written about the importance and benefit
Guest Blog: Employee Engagement Gets Serious – Colin Hodgson, Sales Director for Edenred UK
“Much has been written about the importance and benefits of employee engagement yet rarely is it seen as a meaningful strategy to drive tangible business results.
This is because for many organisations, “engagement” is about having a tick list of tactics and a set of expectations that results will follow as a matter of course. Any positive outcome is considered a nice to have, an almost incidental boost to motivation and productivity.
In reality, when correctly implemented and supported to deliver their full potential, these strategies can achieve so much more.
Financial and practical considerations
This has never been more important at a time of economic challenges, budget restrictions and pay freezes, where solid reward schemes can provide a much needed compromise. However, this also means that any such scheme must deliver maximum ROI for the business.
Internally, a successful engagement strategy works best if it is aligned to people’s core roles and competencies in order to drive performance and encourage efficient behaviours, regardless of department or discipline, with a clear process in place for sales target and KPI measurement and a focus on ‘right first time’ operational excellence.
It’s crucial that the cost of any scheme linked to sales performance, whether that be tactical or as part of a longer-term reward programme, is proportional to the results it is aiming to achieve if it is do the job of delivering real change for the business.
The role of the manager
As a tool for engagement, a reward scheme can be very effective – but it won’t run itself, regardless of the fanfare supporting its launch. A manager needs to continual invest time in driving the scheme and engaging with colleagues to maximise potential.
Evaluation and adjustment of the scheme on an ongoing basis helps to stay on track. Applying SMART objectives is one of the single best ways to review any programme designed to drive performance, with clear communication from managers before, during and after the incentive period.
Feedback about what employees feel is and isn’t working should be incorporated so changes can be made accordingly. Equally, positive performance feedback should be provided within the clear parameters of the reward scheme. This in turn drives self-esteem, employee satisfaction and a clear direction in their work, which are all linked to performance improvement.
Ultimately, determining and benchmarking the results is critical, particularly for sales and performance improvement incentives.
21st Century reward
Consider the relevance of the incentives being offered in relation to the recipient’s preferences – the more personal, the more effective they will be. Take into account as many personal characteristics as is reasonable, e.g. cultural and religious beliefs, age and interests and above all, provide choice. Multi-retail vouchers and prepaid cards allow the recipient to choose where and how they use their reward, which feels like a sincere gesture.
For the managers of the scheme, simplicity is key. They want control of the process at their fingertips, with real-time visibility and reporting. A self-service incentive management application that allows the distribution of rewards within a personalised and branded email template is ideal for this – administration and cost is kept to a minimum through the scheme’s ease of use and the recipient benefits from being able to choose from a wide range of rewards to suit their own personal needs.
This will ensure the reward is relevant, cost-effective and delivers against overall business objectives.
Employee engagement has a direct correlation on customer engagement, but that doesn’t mean incentives should only be internally focused.
Externally, marketers strive to generate demand with incentives and promotions influencing customer action and driving engagement. Customer acquisition campaigns will drive sales growth and can significantly reduce the cost of acquisition. Similarly, incentives can change customer behavior, for example, encouraging early adopters to switch to new order system or adopt new products delivering internal operational efficiencies, cost-savings and securing market share.
In summary, ‘engagement will get serious’ when you apply the right combination of investment, administration, communication and incentive both internally and externally, with consistent management adoption to realise the full potential of your strategies.”