It’s that time of the year when you want to start thinking about how you incentivise and motivate in 2017. But there are some common complaints that come up time and time again. We spoke to Anthony Mortimer, Business Incentives Manager, House of Fraser and Tim Watkins, Director of Sales & Partnerships at Virgin Experience Days to answer all our questions about creating a listening culture at work.

0917b4d tim

 “I feel I am the only one pushing our incentives and benefits.”
Anthony: “Having established the case for your incentive and benefits scheme, it is essential to get buy-in and support from key areas across the business. An integrated approach must be taken to the scheme, involving not just HR and reward teams, but internal communications, business unit managers and other potential scheme ‘advocates’ whose responsibility it would be to champion the programme at every opportunity.”

  • ‘I manage our company employee rewards programme but feel like I’m working in isolation and it’s really hard to engage staff.’

Tim: “Maintaining and engaging staff to get the best out of them can be a challenge but it’s essential to take a step back and create a culture where employees feel appreciated and supported. Creating a work culture that runs through all areas of the business and allows employees to flourish should be high on the agenda when running a successful company.

“Trying to run an employee engagement or recognition programme run in isolation will never work. More and more people are leaving their jobs out of frustration, they want to be heard and have their opinions valued. At Virgin we seek feedback from staff and implement ideas when possible. As a result we have a proud record of innovation and staff retention. By focusing on the ideas of our people we have been able to focus on staff reward and recognition. Adopt a listening culture and you’ll attract and retain great people.”

  •  “Even though we have improved how we motivate and incentivise, employees are still grumbling. Is it a losing battle?’

Anthony “The fact that you are receiving feedback means that your workforce is engaged in the process. However the nature of the feedback means that you are not offering what your employees need or aspire to. Therefore you must establish exactly what would make a difference in their lives, and how best you can deliver that benefit in a timely manner and within budget. You should survey your workforce to establish how and what they would prefer to see offered, then research the market for best match providers. If, for example they have identified gift cards or eGifts as a preferred option, give staff the choice of say three different brands; one that offers everyday spending, one premium retailer and, perhaps, an experiential alternative. Your scheme must be dynamic – it doesn’t start and finish with launch, but should be assessed and refined regularly to ensure that it continues to offer real benefit.”

  • Employees don’t seem too bothered about the incentives and rewards on offer. What can I do to excite them?

Tim: “It’s personal. The most effective employee rewards programme adopt an individual, personalised approach rather than ‘one reward fits all’ solution.
Successful teams are made up of diverse personalities, groups of varying ages and ambitions. An appealing incentive for one won’t work for another team member. So personalising rewards and incentives for the individual will be far more successful. That’s why multi choice vouchers are a popular choice with employee recognition programmes, passing the ultimate choice to the individual.

“Team socials are also a great way to incentivise staff and keep employees motivated. It’s important to allow staff let their hair down every once in a while and bond outside of the office. It’s a little extra something, giving people a thank you from the business, and it really works. However, the company shouldn’t dictate what is fun. It’s personal, let the employees decide.”

  •  “We implemented a benefit scheme and more staff have left this year. How do I show they aren’t correlated?”

Anthony: “Obviously it’s too late to establish why these staff have left. However, the best indicator as to whether staff are happy with the benefits scheme is to regularly survey the workforce. You need to establish whether the scheme is meeting the needs and aspirations of those involved and, if not, make it easy for participants to tell you how best you could deliver a more effective and engaging programme. And, once you have received that feedback, take action and be seen to take action on those suggestions and recommendations. Your benefits scheme should be a dynamic business process.

  •  “My incentives/ reward programmes always cause more admin than I would like – it’s taking over my day job.”

Anthony “One of the simplest ways to cut down on admin is to offer benefits and incentives that require limited involvement on your part. eGift cards, such as those offered by House of Fraser, are ideal; you choose the value and the eGift is delivered via email to the recipient making the whole reward process fast and immediate. The award can be made, delivered and spent within hours as the employee can browse, shop and spend online straightway, or visit and spend instore. Admin is kept to a minimum and the business benefits from bulk purchasing discounts; the recipient gets the reward quickly and has the choice of a fantastic range of brands from the UK’s premium department store.”

  • How can I keep running costs down?

Anthony “There are several ways of cutting down on the cost of your incentive and benefits scheme – firstly, examine whether the benefits themselves offer ways to save money. For example, bulk purchasing discounts are available from retailers on gift cards and eGift cards and offer the additional benefit of reduced costs associated with distribution. Gift cards can now be sent out with no value assigned, so there are no secure storage or delivery costs involved. The cards are activated and loaded with value only when they are in the possession of the intended recipient. Gift cards can also be retained by the employee and remotely topped up with additional value by the employer, making them ideal for ongoing reward programmes. eGift cards are delivered to any device capable of receiving email, reducing delivery and administration costs even further.”