How to keep employees motivated through times of growth


Debra Corey is Group Reward Director at Reward Gateway, the world’s leading provider of employee engagement technology. Reward Gateway has helped more than 1,100 companies including IBM, American Express and Samsung to attract, engage and retain the best employees. The company’s products power employee communications, employee recognition, and employee benefits through a single employer-branded hub called SmartHub®.

A growing business is a healthy business, and whether you’re an entrepreneur or a new employee, there’s nothing more exciting than being a part of a thriving business.

But periods of quick growth or expansion can also give HR Directors a lot to think about, especially when it comes to reward and motivation, often leaving you feeling overwhelmed.

Get creative
Although the phrase ‘business growth’ might conjure thoughts of money and success, it may actually mean for the short-term that available cash is in even shorter supply than it was before. Entrepreneurs will know this well: as the business becomes more successful, counterintuitively much of the money is ploughed into the business to an even greater extent. This means that HR often needs to get creative when it comes to reward and motivation.  You’ll need to find ways to do, as the expression goes, more with less. Here’s a link to a blog I wrote recently about how to stretch your benefits budget which you may find helpful.

Keep it ‘right’
One of the biggest challenges HR professionals face with regards to rewarding and motivating employees throughout times of growth is scalability. What might be ‘right’ for a team of 20 – lunch in the local pub every Friday for example, or a ping pong table in the office – may not have the desired effect when applied to team of 100 based in multiple offices. When you’re planning a new programme don’t  just think about what will work now, think about how it will look as you grow – when you’re 10%, 30%, even 50% bigger. Is it still feasible? If not, do you really want to introduce something that you’ll just have to take away again at some point in the near future?

The other challenge you face as you grow are the changes to your culture, values and business strategy.  As rewards and motivation are so closely linked to these, it’s just as important to make sure that as they change your reward programmes change to align with them. Do your research regularly, speak to your colleagues to find out if what mattered to them before still resonates; look at how your business’s culture, values and strategy is changing; and think about what your competitors are offering. Then,  examine your existing rewards to check that they’re as valuable as ever, and that they’re meeting your objective: to attract, engage and retain the best in the business.

Communicate in the right way
Communicating is much simpler when your entire company is a handful of people sitting in the same office everyday. The challenge steps up a notch when you have more employees, especially if they are in multiple locations, across different time zones and working different patterns.  However, as you grow managing communications becomes even more important, and should not be overlooked.

At Reward Gateway we faced this challenge as we expanded from one London office to 7 offices around the world.  We handled it in a few ways:  The first was to create a global communication platform called ‘boom!’, which uses our SmartHub® technology.  This has been a fantastic way to get information out quickly to all of our colleagues on a day-to-day basis, and keep everyone connected. Another way was to adapt our bi-weekly face-to-face meetings, moving to Global Briefings, which are taped tv shows that are posted on boom!.  And finally we’ve evolved our quarterly business update meetings to live events in each country, where presentations are made and streamed from around the world.  We’ve made it work for us by adapting the principles of communication to work for our larger global audience.

It may seem like there’s a lot to think about, but by understanding and addressing change brought on by growth, you will be able to overcome the challenges you may face.  If I could leave you with one final thought from what we’ve learned at Reward Gateway, it would be to remember who you were when you founded your business.  Stay true to this as you grow, for this is what made you successful to begin with.

To find out more about growing pains and how to overcome the HR challenges that arise from business growth join leading HR professionals at Engagement Excellence Live on 3rd June in London. Sign up here for more information.

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