REMUNERATION Non-Monetary Rewards – As part of the remuneration equation

In the current tight labour market, employee loyalty, now, more than ever, is becoming an outmoded concept. Pursuing job for life no longer represents the career objective of the intelligent, ambitious and sought-after employee. Rather, employees are increasingly focused on developing and maintaining skill set that is portable. Strong marketability for the whole of one’s career is the ultimate goal.
In the face of these market pressures, establishing competitive salary packages may no longer be enough for organisations to retain critical people skills. Managers need to understand motivation and the role of recognition in order to keep the best employees.
So what is meant by motivation and where does recognition fit in? Intrinsically most employees have desire to feel needed, valued and appreciated in their role. Research shows this type of reinforcement not only results in happier employees, but also more productive workforce. Effectively recognising your employees and their contribution needs to be priority in your business. It can contribute significantly to positive organisation culture and to satisfied employees.
How then do we tap into theories of motivation to ensure our employees are conscientious, engaged and supportive of our business goals? Motivation theorist Douglas McGregor believes that people want to learn and that work therefore represents natural activity where people develop self-discipline and self-development. The manager’s job then is to integrate these individual objectives for self-development with the organisation’s need for high performance and success. Maslow’s well-known theory of motivation also supports this premise, suggesting that our ego needs are met on the job when recognition is given for job well done.
Many employers leap to the conclusion that money is the primary motivator for their staff. Managers might assume that any task could be accomplished if enough money was exchanged. While it’s true that we all value money, employees will intuitively offset this benefit with the perceived costs to themselves – time taken, energy spent, personal risk or opportunities lost (eg, time with family). This is especially relevant in contemporary society where work/life balance receives much scrutiny.
If money alone then is not great motivational tool, what other opportunities are available to employers to motivate their staff and ensure retention?
Recognition plays critical role in employee motivation and establishing what motivates people is core to establishing sound recognition or non-monetary reward programme.
Examples include:
* Just “saying thanks”. Thanking an employee for job well done costs you nothing, and is usually highly valued by the individual. We sometimes lose sight of the power of praise and thanks in these busy times when we are always focused on the next task at hand.
* Public recognition – thanking an employee for their contribution to project or the achievement of milestone in front of their colleagues can create real sense of pride and ‘being valued’ for the employee.
* Symbolic rewards like certificate or ‘trophy’ honouring an achievement are also good option. While some may be cynical about their value, you’d be surprised at how long employees keep these on the wall or beside their desk.
* Relatively inexpensive awards by way of thanks such as bottle of wine, box of chocolates, book or CD vouchers can be cost-effective but meaningful way of demonstrating thanks and generating that feel-good factor.
* Higher cost options may include mystery weekend for two, day-long spa package, an action adventure activity (like sky diving or bungy jumping).
* At the highest cost end of the continuum, reward may take the form of an overseas trip for high-performing team. Rewards of this nature are generally hit, not only because of their magnitude but because they allow teams to bond outside the work environment and collectively remember shared and fun experience.
Developing an effective reward programme however does require careful thought and consideration. Some employers are hesitant about singling out specific employees, concerned this will lead to jealousy or dissatisfaction from others. Others are unsure about the role of recognition in the wider remuneration equation.
Katikati-based Sharon Searle has developed her business “Rewards to Remember”, specifically to assist organisations to recognise their employees. She explains: “Cash-based remuneration is expected, it is contractual and it represents person’s value in the marketplace. Non-monetary recognition has feel-good factor and goes long way towards fulfilling the unwritten but highly valued psychological contract.”
Searle notes that employers primarily use her service to help them derive alternative ways to reward their staff.
In her experience working with employers, who “want to know how they can use recognition to become good employer”, she has found that employees who are given recognition generally take positive view of their employer. “They feel recognised and valued. People enjoy being rewarded in way that fits in with their interests and lifestyle. What’s more, they will be talking about it for weeks and months to come.”
As for ‘what’s hot’ in rewards right now, Searle notes that luxury accommodation and spa packages are very popular with women who may be in high-stress jobs and looking for some relaxation and pampering. On the flip side, action adventure activities such as skydiving or white-water rafting are proving popular for the younger demographic. “Having the chance to do something you’ve never tried before can be powerful reward.”
Recognition is an extremely powerful tool when used effectively. The impact of thanks, praise or well-considered reward can do great things for employee motivation and retention. Ensure you find out what it is that your employees value, and be confident that your wider remuneration policy and practice is sound, fair, competitive and provides good basis for providing recognition for ‘above and beyond’ behaviours and achievements.

Ten tips for the effective use of recognition in your organisation.
1. First and foremost, be clear about what you want your recognition programme to achieve. Specify milestones, targets or behaviours that the organisation wants to reward, then recognise them.
2. Be fair in the application of rewards. Don’t use the programme as mechanism to ‘play favourites’. Be consistent, if you have rewarded one employee for specific achievement, then ensure you reward another if they achieve the same milestone/target etc.
3. Ensure clarity. Why is the employee receiving the reward specifically? If they don’t know for certain, this can create confusion and the reward may not be successful in motivating the desired behaviour/s.
4. Personalise the reward wherever possible. If giving dinner voucher, find out the name of the employee’s favourite restaurant. If they have expressed an interest in scuba diving, organise an all-expenses-paid trip. The time and effort you go to will make the reward even more precious. If you’re unsure what will motivate your employee, just ask! People won’t be backwards about coming forwards.
5. Provide variety. One size does not fit all when it comes to recognition. Consider tailoring the reward to the appropriate demographic. If it’s team of young computer programmers, then game of paintball followed by pizza, may have more appeal than company night at the opera. If your employee/s have family, make sure the reward can be shared by their spouse and/or children.
6. Ensure frequency. If you use recognition sparsely it may only create confusion.
7. Tailor the ‘size’ of the reward to the effort and significance of the event. Eg, box of chocolates may well suffice for well-written report where your employee worked overtime, but could seem like slap in the face to salesman who has blitzed his budget by 40 percent.
8. Be careful to avo

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