There are gazillions of articles and blogs on the internet about the human relationship with full time work. Every employee, employer, expert, doctor and maharishi has a theory, an opinion and a statistic to wave at the crowd relating to ‘what employees want’ at work – particularly when it comes to REWARDS.
For the purpose of this blog, we decided to go straight to the horse’s mouth and ask that question on one person’s private facebook page. Want to know how one group of 35+* year old people responded to the following question?
“If you were in full time employment, what kinds of rewards would you like from an employer for all your hard work?”
- Cash money
Julie was first to respond with the (rather predictable) ‘more cash’, followed closely by ‘yet more cash’. This was predictable only in that Julie is a fashion copywriter and thus has the alarming propensity to spend vats of money on fashion in the name of research.
Graham is a plant breeder, and suggested that more cash doesn’t work as an incentive and that his own studies into the subject demonstrated that ‘non-cash related’ rewards such as a good working environment, good relationships and community are more inclined to be seen as rewards, and thus increase employee loyalty.
It was true that money was usually referred to as a ‘due’ rather than ‘reward’ although nobody disliked the idea of ‘more money’ thrown in for good measure. Frances teaches film studies and seeks a ‘fair wage that increases with responsibility/loyalty’ but seemed to place no more importance on money as a reward than the odd dinner out, cocktails and a bit of dancing.
Employers, consider… mortgage support schemes, help paying off student debt or access to interest-free loans instead of a standard salary increase.
- Beer and cheese
We all know that food and drink binds us together – probably the reason why food and drink featured multiple times. Gastronomic and hedonistic ideas included ‘Beer ‘O Clock’ on a Friday or free Friday lunch as an opportunity to chat and get to know co-workers.
It’s well known that unwinding with your work colleagues outside of work forges stronger relationships. Stronger relationships with our colleagues creates more effective teamwork in the workplace and ultimately leads to greater productivity.
Employers, consider… encouraging employees to get together informally to eat and drink – and not just on a Friday. Make social gatherings a regular occurrence so employees can get them in the diary. It will increase attendance.
- Time off
Our own experience shows that finishing up early on a Friday increases productivity (yes, we measured it). Finishing work at 3.30pm and encouraging an early start to the weekend means that employees are actually more inclined to get all their work finished by lunchtime. Friday is naturally a slow day as we all wind down and succumb to the Friday feeling, so why not encourage guilt-free leisure time?
Sarah C (project manager, mother, marathon runner and cat lover) suggested that days off on birthdays would be a grand idea, together with a sensible attitude to flexible working and possibly beer.
Georgia (another project manager) pointed out that she has all these things in her work with her current employer.
Sarah has asked Georgia if she can put her forward for a new job in her organisation.
Gabriella pointed out that “often high achievement is at the expense of someone’s personal time, which to some can be a higher commodity than money. An extra couple of days off will go a long way to make someone feel valued “
Employers, consider… gifting fun things to do during their time off. How about partnering with a travel agent for cheap holidays, or offering a saving fund for exotic holidays. Also, do some employees really go the extra mile? Why not reward these people by allowing them to ‘buy’ themselves more holiday through their extra time at work. Don’t let extra efforts go unnoticed.
- Flat management structure
Sarah W is a magazine editor in healthcare, and no-one has ever really known what Dominic actually does but he always seems very efficient and busy. Both were keen to see flat management structures in their organisations.
Typically, flat management structures involve wiping out middle management and encouraging decision-making across the organisation. This can encourage fast evolution, less hierarchy and supervision and as a consequence can make employees feel more valued and respected, often seen as rewards in themselves. Tommy is ex-navy and now works in the maintenance service industry abroad with a sideline in bouncy castles. His main requirement was ‘respect’ – and this was seen across the board in various guises.
Employers, consider… reward employees by getting them involved in decision-making, no matter how big the organisation.
It may or may not surprise you to know that hearing genuine thanks for hard work was the most featured response. Bob, a writer and e-learning designer had a few items on his wishlist but while praise was right up there, he felt it was more a due than a reward. Frances suggested a reward was “ultimately about feeling valued and appreciated.” Jessica, a learning deployment leader in the US also suggested that public recognition for achievements added to the impact of praise for reward.
Employers, consider… upping the ante, and, along with appreciation, offer some ideas for personal growth via new hobbies and skills subsidised through the company, such as learning a new musical instrument or a new language.
- Understanding of change
Amandine has recently had a baby and suggested a yearly consultation with a manager or decision maker wouldn’t go amiss. Here, she could reflect on her current list of needs and wants and assess the most pressing items. This idea is based on the premise that things change – life changes, so do our requirements and so do we.
Employers, consider… Why not offer the ability to sacrifice salary for other benefits. Why not ease the cost of becoming a first time parent, buying a new car or house?
- Human appreciation society
Jeremy F works in Aviation and Aerospace and receives vouchers for high street stores via his work. He also benefits from good hotel deals, has a company shares scheme, salary sacrifice car scheme, and (company) performance related bonus – but these were his closing words.
“But when all’s said and done, you really can’t beat feeling like you’ve done a good job and that it’s been appreciated.”
Jeremy D is a screenwriter and suggested “A decent voucher allowing you to pick something, like a meal in a really good restaurant, or a spa day, or an adventure day. Really, people are happy if they’re well-paid and their employer trusts them enough to allow them a little flexibility without micromanaging.”
Alongside some largely irrelevant comments and frankly unnecessary expletives, Tamzin, writer, made a final coherent point that was in fact reflected in most of the responses, this being “Genuinely I just expect someone to treat me with respect, allow me time off (not holiday) for funerals, let me leave at a respectable time if I have theatre tickets, and to give me a kind word if I’ve done a good job. Just don’t make me feel like a subservient ***hole.”
Employers, consider… treating employees as you would like to be treated yourself.
*being slightly on the generous side here.