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Increasing Productivity

The Problem With Employee Rewards

We consider employee recognition to be one of the key drivers or enablers of continuous improvement.

Su-Mari Du Bruyn

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Before we continue – it is important to clarify how we distinguish between employee rewards and employee recognition:

  • Employee rewards: Refers to something of monetary value – for example a cash incentive or a gift voucher, used to reward employees for good behaviour.
  • Employee recognition: Refers to an action that conveys a “thank you” – usually this has negligible or no cost involved, and it is used to recognise employees for good behaviour.

Related: Why Incentivise?

R = Repeatability

  • Rewards are generally one of the first “luxuries” to go when a company needs to tighten its belt. Removal of this perceived benefit could significantly demotivate employees, causing the desired behaviour to disappear as well. You have to consider very carefully your ability to sustain it in the long run (not just during the “good” times).

E = Encouraging the wrong behaviour

  • The desire for the reward could drive employees to exhibit undesired behaviour – finding loop holes, cutting corners or double crossing their colleagues just to get to the reward. Your culture should be one of excellence. Employees are getting paid to do their job, so be very careful to not reward them for what should in fact be the standard.

W = Waning value

  • Simply compare how that first drive in your brand new car felt versus how it feels when you drive it for the thousandth time – not as exciting anymore, is it? At some point in time your reward will lose its ability to motivate the same kind of effort and excitement as it initially did, leaving you in a never ending position of having to continuously increase the monetary value related to it (and we have not even broached the subject of keeping up with inflation).

A = Administration

  • Who is going to organise the availability of the funds, the purchasing of the gift etc. every single time? How intensive or complex is this organizing process? Will it be the first thing to fall behind when “more important” tasks loom? Can you guarantee that cash will always be available or that available funds will be prioritised for this purpose? How will this be accounted for in the accounts?

R = Root cause identification

  • Consider very carefully why you are implementing a rewards system – what are you trying to achieve? And are you sure you can achieve it in this manner? A company sometimes implements an incentive scheme for their sales people with the hope to increase their sales, when in fact sales are being hampered by the quality or price of the product and not by the effort of the sales people. Now, instead of identifying and addressing the root cause, they effectively insult their sales people by implying that they are not already delivering their best efforts and that their best efforts can only be bribed out of them.

D = Diversity

  • Are you certain that the reward you have chosen will really be considered a reward by all of your employees? They live in different areas, have different interests and are motivated by different things. If, as an example, we are considering clothing, then the differences in shapes and sizes need to be considered as well. Choosing the wrong gift for the right person could significantly demotivate employees.

S = Selecting the right recipients

  • Who do you reward? The person who came up with the idea? Or the person who executed it? Is it the sales guy who closed the deal or the 100 employees involved in the manufacturing process or the buying department that made sure that all the components were there on time or the despatch department that made sure it got to the customer on time that should be rewarded? Remember that in most instances every employee is only one link in a long chain that needs to work together to achieve the desired end result, so make very sure that your reward system encourages team work. Consider very carefully your judging process – do you reward based on the idea being generated or the execution of the idea or the end result of it? Be very careful that you do not start sending a message through your actions that the small steps in the right direction are not valued. Many small things can make an incredibly huge difference.  We would also caution you to be very wary of playing ideas off against each other. You are treading on very dangerous ground if an employee’s idea was not the best compared to the others this month, but would have been the best compared to the others of last month or the next. Again this can demotivate employees or cause them to delay raising their ideas or executing improvements until such time that they believe they can “win”.

This does not mean that there is no place for employee rewards, but we believe that they are better employed in a way that surprises and delights employees, utilised as the exception rather than the rule.

Related: How to Structure Salary Packages

Recognition has much fewer pitfalls, but one very important key to its success is that you MUST be honest when applying it! Make sure that you are consistent with your recognition and give it a personal touch with a handwritten thank you note and / or personal hand shake from the big boss for example. It is a powerful mechanism that can also strengthen the relationship between the various management levels.

We consider employee recognition to be one of the key drivers or enablers of continuous improvement. It can facilitate employee commitment and encourage participation. It is a cost effective, valuable and appropriate way of recognising a wide range of “good” behaviours and you can have fun with it as well to celebrate a huge variety of successes.

Su-Mari Du Bruyn is co-founder of Adapt To Change. She is a qualified HR practitioner and logistics specialist and is passionate about Continuous Improvement and people development. Through Adapt To Change she assists businesses to improve their business performance and better engage their staff. Su-Mari also recently launched her e-book business guide, The Power to Ignite. Available exclusively on Amazon.com for Kindle, The Power to Ignite is a practical guide to the powerful art of Continuous Improvement, sharing proven methodology and highlighting important dos and don’ts in engaging staff and improving business results. Find her on Google+

Increasing Productivity

The Surprising Ways Your Office Design Shows You Trust Your Employees

When team members feel trusted, they are more engaged in their work.

Marie Puybaraud

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Game rooms, contemplation suites and rooftop running tracks. These may sound like modern innovations – emblematic of the workplace of 2018 – but businesses have been experimenting with their workplaces for some time.

Take the U.S. Justice Department under Robert Kennedy as an example. A gym on the roof, picnic tables in the courtyard and the staff’s dogs in the office were all some of the measures that Kennedy implemented. What was the result? A huge boost in morale, according to his biographer, Larry Tye.

In fact, almost 50 years on, Tye reports that “nearly all of his surviving band of brothers say working for Bobby was the high point of their professional lives.” Kennedy not only boosted morale, but, crucially, he captured the trust and enthusiasm of his employees and was rewarded for it with their loyalty.

Here lies the crux of the matter: It is not only the employees who regularly don their running shoes that benefit from the running track. It is not just what the running track allows employees to do, but what it represents: a trust in staff that they will spend their time at work responsibly and that they are not chained to their desks.

Related: 4 Things Your Start-Up Needs When It Opens An Office

This really is crucial; building trust is the most effective way for employers to drive up engagement levels, according to our research, “Workplace – powered by Human Experience,” which is based on a survey over 7,300 employees across 12 countries shows. Boosting feelings of trust, according to nearly 40 percent of respondents, would have a very positive effect on their engagement level. Kindness by management (32 percent) and letting staff take initiatives without fear of being judged (31 percent) come next.

How does design demonstrate trust?

In all three areas, most employers have significant ground to be gained. So, what can they do to turn these abstract ideas into changes that are appreciated by staff? Trust comes in different ways – open-plan offices, for instance, in which all seniority levels mix together; community spaces (from attractive in-house cafés to lounges); and trusting staff enough to let them choose their working pattern, how to reconfigure their workspace and how to work flexibly.

It is no coincidence that our research also shows that while employees are ready to embrace change and contemplate an agile way of working, with 76 percent of workers globally ready for some type of change to their workplace, maintaining their personal comfort remains a priority.

Caring about the well-being of your employees is one way to demonstrate – using high-quality materials in desks, chairs and overall design, for instance; helping employees stay healthy with a nutrition plan through high-quality supplies for food in the canteen and providing access to anti-stress facilities such as quiet zones and meditation rooms. Having an effective support team on the ground, such as a facility manager, a concierge and floor ambassadors, could reinforce your execution plan.

But, it is also about fostering trust in employees to use their time effectively, providing a range of working locations and empowering people with greater flexibility over how, where and when they work.

But what can businesses actually do?

The transformational effect of trust building in the workplace does not require huge budgets. It requires human leadership teams who are ready to make employees’ working days better days to be an efficient and happy person at work.

For instance, smaller businesses could create major collaborative spaces or community spaces dedicated to team activities – music rooms, meditation spaces, scrum rooms and design thinking spaces where workers can go to brainstorm and share ideas during the working day or for longer periods of time. This not only cultivates creativity and helps employees to recharge their batteries, but also demonstrates that they are trusted to be away from their desks – ditching dated time keeping policies.

Research from the U.K. bank HSBC highlights that flexible and remote working is not only on the rise, but nine out of 10 employees claim that remote working is their No. 1 motivator to boost their productivity at work. Whether you identify a dedicated space – or simply clear corners of the office and add a sofa to provide more informal spaces – community or collaboration areas ensure that employees are able to step away from their desks to recharge and connect with their colleagues. Flexible spaces are stimulating, creative, inspirational and, perhaps most importantly, as the research demonstrates, capable of boosting productivity.

Related: Are You in the Right Office? Ask Yourself These 4 Key Questions

As for letting people use their initiative freely, encourage them to make suggestions (and also to make and learn from errors) on a wide range of issues, from improving productivity to new workplace systems to the design and layout of the premises. Including your staff in the process from the outset will also give them the confidence to suggest any changes to the workplace they feel the business needs. Not only does this encourage a sentiment of trust between employer and employee, but also means your people cultivate a strong sense of belonging toward their place of work. After all, more than a third of the 7,300 employees we surveyed believe that personalisation of the workplace is critical, and over 40 percent believe they would do their daily work better if they could work from different types of spaces that have been customised for a variety of needs.

If you manage to deliver on these three areas, our research suggests that you will see a rise in engagement. Staff will be keener to share their insights with others, to learn from colleagues, to grow within the company and to be as enthusiastic as if the organization belonged to them.

The message is clear: The first step is to trust in your staff and the transformation of your business is sure to follow.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Increasing Productivity

Entrepreneurs And A Politically Neutral Workplace – Finding The Perfect Balance

While employees have the right to freedom of association, that right is not absolute and may be limited, provided that there is a rational basis that underpins this.

Fiona Leppan

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Unless an entrepreneur has a vested interest in a specific political party, that entrepreneur, like any employer, has a duty to create and maintain a politically neutral work environment for all employees.

This does not mean that employees are prohibited from joining political parties or participating in political activities in their private time as this goes to the heart of freedom of association. While employees have the right to freedom of association, that right is not absolute and may be limited, provided that there is a rational basis that underpins this.

“Wearing political clothing does not only have the potential to cause tension in the workplace but can also impact cohesion and constructive interaction which should take place between employees amongst themselves and the employer. An employer is therefore well within its rights to take reasonable steps to mitigate this,” explains Fiona Leppan, a Director in Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr’s Employment practice.

It is therefore important that entrepreneurs and other employers introduce a rule against employees wearing political insignias in the workplace where this is justifiable, and apply that rule consistently through all levels of management.

“This would alleviate the argument that management supports a particular political party or organisation. It will also assist to discourage claims of unfair treatment against the employer in future,” she stresses.

Related: Gender Equality In The Workplace – SA Is Getting It Right

In a recent case (NUMSA obo Kwena Masha and PFG Building Glass), this matter came to the fore. In this case, an employee, who was also a shop steward, was disciplined and dismissed for taking a photograph at the workplace of him wearing a t-shirt of a certain political party, and thereafter posting that photograph on Facebook thereby associating the employer with his political aspirations. Upon his dismissal, the employee referred an unfair dismissal dispute to the National Bargaining Council for the Chemical Industry (NBCCI) and alleged, amongst other things, that the employer’s policy against wearing political insignia infringed his freedom of association.

“The employer argued that it had a rule against the wearing of political clothing in the workplace because it was not affiliated to any political party and did not want to create the impression that it was tolerant of any particular political party. It was common cause that the employee was aware of the policy against wearing political clothing in the workplace as this was communicated to him directly and was also placed on notice boards and was available on the employer’s intranet,” says Leppan.

In deciding whether the dismissal was substantively fair, the Commissioner found that the policy prohibiting the taking of photographs in the workplace was reasonable as it was intended to protect the employer’s trade secrets in the form of unique designs and equipment. The Commissioner found that at no time prior to being charged did the employee remove the contentious pictures on Facebook despite him being aware of the workplace rule. The photograph was in the public domain and accessible to the employer’s clients, which although indirectly, could have possible impact on the employer’s business in a form of decreased orders.

The Commissioner found that because the employee had also posted another picture on Facebook of him attending a political rally for the same political party and displaying a banner that the ruling party should fall, it was clear that this constituted participation in political activity. Such conduct could objectively have a negative impact on the employer’s reputation.

Related: Tips For Preventing Harassment In The Workplace

The Commissioner acknowledged that there is still a level of political intolerance in South Africa and stated that if such is not properly controlled in the workplace, it could lead to unnecessary tension. Further, the Commissioner found that given the position of influence the employee enjoyed as a shop steward, he should have known better and acted with caution. On this basis, the Commissioner found that the sanction of dismissal was appropriate also taking into account the seriousness of the misconduct.

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Increasing Productivity

5 Surprising Elements That Boost Your Productivity (One of Them Is Colour)

Even the most subtle things can make an impact.

Nina Zipkin

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The most important thing to remember about productivity, is that unless you are actively procrastinating, there is no way that you can actually do it wrong. Everyone has their own strategy for accomplishing their goals.

Ellevest founder Sallie Krawcheck swears by doing her work in the quiet of the 4:00 am hour. Lyft co-founder John Zimmer blocks out his time in three-hour uninterrupted chunks to power through his biggest deadlines.

But while you can plan as much as you like, there are actually some unexpected elements, in addition to elements like exercise and sleep, that can impact the efficacy of your work.

Multitasking

While it may seem like a straightforward way to get things done, it turns out that multitasking can actually make it tougher for you to be productive. Researchers from Stanford found that even if you’re highly skilled at doing many things at once, while you’re doing the process it actually makes you less adept at taking in and retaining new information and switching gears if need be.

Related: 14 Of The Best Morning Routine Hacks Proven To Boost Productivity

Humour

Cracking jokes with your colleagues isn’t just a fun way to pass the time and build rapport,  but according to a study from the University of Nebraska and Vrije University Amsterdam, it can actually make the group more likely to perform better as a team, leading to “positive socio-emotional communication, procedural structure, and new solutions.”

Temperature

thermostat-and-airconColder temperatures having a chilling effect on focus and productivity. A study from Cornell University found that as the temperature increased from 68 degrees to 77 degrees, employee typing errors decreased by 44 percent and their output increased by 150 percent. Not only that but it affects the bottom line. By making it warmer, the study found that employers save roughly $2 more an hour per employee.

Colours

If you have a say in what colours you paint the walls of your office, stay away from beige, grey and white. Though these hues might seem clean and simple, you could very well be contributing to your employees lack of productivity. A study from the University of Texas found that green and blue lend themselves to improved focus and yellow lends itself to innovation and creativity.

Related: Leadership – Lead Your Team To Dizzying Heights Of Productivity And Business Success

Cuteness

If you feel your concentration waning, and you suddenly have an impulse to go watch some cat videos, a study from Japan’s University of Hiroshima suggests you’d do well to embrace that instinct. Researchers found a link between improved performance and focus after the study participants looked at pictures of cute animals. So go ahead, go down that cuteness rabbit hole and watch that puppy’s Instagram story.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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