Non-Monetary Ways To Thank Employees
In most organizations, the term "total rewards" has replaced compensation. With this being said, it is evident that employees are looking for more out of their employer than the standard pay check, paid time off and healthcare benefits. While it is advantageous from a dollars and cents perspective to not have to provide large bonuses and pay rate increases to keep employees engaged, it does take some strategizing to identify ways to thank employees for their commitment through non-monetary means.
One of the most commonly discussed topics related to employment is flexibility; the tricky part is that most employees and employers define this concept differently. The key is to identify areas within your organization that can accommodate alternative processes without undue hardship on business functions. For some organizations, this might mean flexible work arrangements such as telecommuting. The benefits of telecommuting are truly multifaceted and include cost savings on physical space and utilities. Project the amount of money that your company would save over the course of one year if half of its workforce worked remotely two days a week- you will be astonished.
The difficult situation that Human Resources professionals face is having the “zero flexibility” conversation, however there are typically opportunities even in the most structured of organizations. Simply enabling employees to work variations of core business hours is a reward; do so by permitting employees to work through scheduled break times and start their day later or end their day earlier. Employees with project-based responsibilities can also be offered the option of setting their own schedule. Although non-conventional in many organizational cultures, employees that are entrusted with developing deliverables during their optimal performance times are both engaged and satisfied. Candidly speaking, this option supports organizational sustainability way more than having unproductive employees waste time and money working outside of their peak performance time frame.
Another opportunity for flexibility is in regards to paid time off. If its feasible within your organization, allow employees to ‘borrow’ more time than what is currently permitted. Even if the employee leaves the organization and has not accrued all of the time that he or she has used, you can still recoup it from the last pay check. In accordance with your company’s culture, deliver the message that commitment is a two-way street, and by allowing employees to borrow more time the organization is expecting for everyone to stay onboard to actually accrue it. Alternatively, identify ways that time off can be manipulated; many organizations now allow employees to take sick time in hourly increments rather than whole days. Paid time off should also be examined, as many employees will use an hour here or there to create a more flexible schedule for themselves.
Most engaged and valuable employees actively seek out ways to increase levels of exposure and build their expertise. A great way to reward individuals with your organization identified as high performers is to provide more opportunities to grow and develop. Stretch assignments are long term tasks or projects that are outside of the scope and daily activities of an employee that has demonstrated mastery in his or her core function. Mastery can be an overwhelming word because, as HR professionals, we know that there is always room for improvement. However, I typically use this term to demonstrate the fact that objectivity is key here – meaning that the individual must have scored high on his or her performance review to be eligible for a stretch assignment.
The types of assignments will certainly vary across career levels, industries and areas of expertise. One way that many organizations are bridging the gap between areas of study and professional functions is by providing opportunities for employees to ‘return to their majors’. For example, a member of your workforce that pursued an English degree in college may jump at the opportunity to compose the company newsletter or blog, despite the fact that journalistic capability has very little to do with his or her current role. Emerging talent within your company can also benefit from gaining leadership experience on project teams. Many organizations request employee support in the form of focus groups to resolve issues and implement solutions; the value add is the diverse perspectives of the employees from various functional areas. Not only do members of focus groups have heightened visibility, but they will also have the satisfaction of making an imprint on the organization.
Although it may seem cliché, recognizing employees is one of the key drivers of engagement. Demonstrating that the organization is aware of the impact that its people are making to ensure its sustainability is an integral part of any human resources strategy. Recognition can be overt such as monthly employee spotlights highlighting key accomplishments of high performers, or arranging company-wide celebrations to express gratitude. An even more impactful way to recognize the unique needs and skill sets of employees is to construct HR initiatives around your people. This means developing training programs that address gaps in performance, creating programs that provide exposure and opportunities to groups that typically would not have received them, and speaking with employees about how the organization can better serve them. Recognition in this sense is acknowledging the fact that the company is heavily reliant upon its workforce and endeavors to provide sufficient resources and support to cultivate an environment in which its employees can perform to the best of their ability.
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