The big debate

Star spotting


Why is it so important for employers to recognise the success and hard work of employees, and how can recognition programmes be delivered in a way that includes and motivates a diverse workforce? Incentive and Motivation posed these questions to our panel of experts…

Martin Alden, Wickes
“If you want to get quality out, then you must put quality in, so motivation schemes should be well researched and tailored to the workforce. As with most schemes, understanding the make-up of the workforce, making sure the benefits are understood and offering choice are all essential. Voucher schemes can form an effective employee recognition strategy as they give both employers and employees greater freedom of choice, with the opportunity to choose products or experiences from a wide range of outlets.

“Offering long-lasting vouchers that give employees control over when to use them is also a must. Giving a voucher that enables a member of staff to invest in and improve their home is a powerful form of employee recognition – it gives them the chance to improve their lives over the longer term and goes a long way to encouraging recognition, productivity and fostering a positive atmosphere at work.”

Andrew Johnson, UK Gift Card & Voucher Association
“It’s important to keep a workforce focused, particularly when it may be a diminished workforce with stretched resources. Motivating and retaining good staff is key, and one of the reasons why sales of B2B gift cards and vouchers are at their highest. Certainly, employers recognise that they need to keep employees motivated.

“There is a fine line between what employers want and what their employees want. This is why incentivisation should be a key part of any company’s ethos these days. Conversely, 10-20 years ago, many companies saw it as optional, or worse, unnecessary to reward and incentivise their staff.

“Importantly, employers shouldn’t put anything into a reward package that employees may come to expect. If that happens, the programme has failed. Employees should be giving 100%, and any ‘bonuses’ should be seen as exactly that – a bonus.

“The ultimate recognition programme recognises the individual and that individual’s efforts. Getting the right gift card or voucher from the right store, for the right person, can be the biggest motivator and show staff you care. This can be difficult if you have a large, diverse workforce, so a multi-store voucher would work well.”

John Dove, House of Fraser for Business
“Times are tough; that’s the new reality and, in that reality, organisational structures are flatter, individuals have fewer opportunities to move up the ladder and budgets may not be in place for regular pay rises. So, the need to recognise and reward people’s success has never been greater.

“Rewarding employees publicly for a job well done or for displaying the right behaviour – and doing so with a gift such as a gift card, voucher or code – creates a great opportunity for employers to talk about the success of individuals and make that success infectious. If staff see their peers being rewarded with a desirable gift, they will be motivated to emulate their behaviour. Sharing success can be a powerful thing. 

“However, rewards need to be seen as a level playing field – set them up in a way that only allows certain employees to gain and you won’t get the outcomes you’re hoping for. Ultimately, rewarding people for their good work should be an inherent part of a company’s culture.”

Richard Mills, PizzaExpress for Business
“Morale in businesses can be quite low at the moment, but it doesn’t take much to get the right recognition programme in place that is simple and cost-effective, but has a huge impact on motivating staff and recognising people who go the extra mile.

“I don’t think that modern workforces necessarily expect to be recognised and rewarded for good work any more than previous generations. However, I think more people hope to be rewarded and really appreciate it when it happens.

“Employees tend to be more technology-savvy these days and are used to multi-channel options, so it’s worthwhile thinking about the convenience of a brand’s offering when you’re looking for a reward solution. PizzaExpress offers multiple ways to reward staff – through gift cards, experience cards, e-codes and SMS, for example – and we also offer a range of dining experiences that appeal to a broad demographic. We cater for family dining, couples looking for a night out and people wanting a takeaway option.

“It’s good to think about who you’re rewarding. Many big businesses have diverse workforces, so consider rewarding employees with brands that have broad appeal and offer a good choice of delivery mechanisms that work for the individuals, but are also a fit with the business.”

Iain McMath, Sodexo Motivation Solutions
“As employees move jobs more frequently, the need to motivate and engage them grows. It is important to recognise an employee’s successes and reward their work. However, it can be difficult to achieve this. Thanks to developments in technology, it is now possible to motivate a diverse workforce using tools that favour individuals and simultaneously reduce administration requirements.

“Sodexo’s Reward Portal Premium is an example of where technology can help deliver ambitious incentive and recognition (I&R) strategies that easily drives motivation across an organisation, with minimal investment of time and resource. This online I&R solution helps HR professionals engage employees with advanced communication tools and an inspirational reward catalogue. Employees collect points for their achievements, which can be exchanged for a specific reward. It creates a consistent yet personal approach to I&R.

“There may be techniques and rewards that appeal to certain demographics, but the reality is that most organisations have a diverse workforce and there are too many variables to group people into categories according to what might motivate them. The answer is to adopt a choice-based approach so the method of rewarding is controlled by the company, but the reward itself is chosen by the individual.”

Lawrence Jones, UKFast
“It has become something of a company tradition for us to take high-performing employees on all-expenses-paid trips to places including Verbier and Las Vegas.  Employees are like family and they should reap the rewards of their commitment. If you want your employees to fight for the business, you have to show them how much you value them.

“My team has been fighting hard for the company lately, as it soared past £20+ million turnover this year. This is hardly surprising when you see the lengths to which we go in order to thank our employees. Every Monday, MD Jonathan Bowers gathers the entire company together for a catch-up. Here, we celebrate the achievements of each department and congratulate the previous week’s superstars. Their qualities range from working through the night to help clients, to simply being a support to others.

“Peer-to-peer recognition is also part of our culture. Every month, employees are prompted to vote for their Superstar of the Month with a computerised feedback form. The highest-voted employee receives a bonus and is featured in the company magazine, alongside a selection of comments about other peoples’ performances. We also praise employees via social media.

“There are many ways to recognise employees, but you should just be creative. The more innovative you are, the more appreciated your team will feel.” 

Julian Courtney, New Look Business Solutions
“Everyone likes to be told that they are doing a good job, and rewarding people with gift cards and vouchers is a good way for a business to demonstrate that it values the individual and their success. You only need to look at gift card and voucher performance figures in the B2B marketplace to see that is the case.

“My advice would be to choose brands that offer versatility and appeal to a wide range of people. New Look, for example, appeals to everyone who likes fashion – and many do – and we can offer a number of fashion and accessory ranges that cater for women, men, young people, mothers-to-be and so on. It’s a broad mix and, therefore, appeals to a lot of people.”

Colin Hodgson, Edenred
“Engagement and motivation are two critical drivers that can be supported and developed through employee recognition schemes. Getting it right means considering three areas.

“The first is appreciating the different role recognition programmes play in employees’ minds. This is based on Herzberg’s two-factor theory, which suggests recognition is powerful because it is linked to the things that deliver genuine satisfaction for employees, such as responsibility, new achievements and advancement. Recognition is also separate from pay and working conditions – the things which employees take for granted and can even lead to dissatisfaction – and, therefore, it is critical to recognise its role in employee success and hard work.

“The second is to think strategically about alignment to corporate goals. You want to motivate your people but ensure the recognition they receive supports the values and behaviours, which advance the business towards its goals. This is good for the employee and good for your organisation. The last area is that while the recognition is consistent, the reward needs to be personalised for different groups of employees and presented in a personal way to each individual.”

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