The Shakespearian Incentive Question…
‘To Reward or not to Reward…To Recognize or not to Recognize
The balance of the two…That is the question?…’
Back in the day, well not as far as the Bard’s days, but the 1980’s, when I started writing incentive programmes, employment was quite different. Loyalty remained largely a fundamental aspect. ‘Jobs for life’ could still be considered a true statement; just. The balance between reward and recognition meant that I could favour the latter. Rewards though, had to be recognized. A sincere pat on the back, together with an envelope containing some retail vouchers, plus an ‘Employee of the Year’ shiny plastic trophy, motivated the majority.
The thirty years that have followed have seen much employment turbulence. This, hand in hand with utility bills taking an upward hike into the stratosphere have shifted employee’s needs. Redundancy, often out of the blue, now a well-used and necessary business tool. The introduction of zero hours contracts and their mixed acceptance (as the Bard may have said; ‘to have or not to have; a vexed question?’). Along with the confusion of how the country feels about lowest ever recorded unemployment rates against levels of poverty. This leaves both the employer and employee with different considerations. Bills must be met on both sides. The dilemmas and necessities of employing and employment a quandary.
Thus, when looking to motivate staff employers have to ensure today’s demands are recognized. The days of year-long incentive campaigns may be things of the past.
Don’t get me wrong, a ‘well done’ goes a very long way. It doesn’t pay the bills though.
The most fundamental incentive plan remains the basic monetary bonus in relation to the bottom line. However, it should not be forgotten that your workers are generally not able, tangibly, to influence many aspects of day-to-day nett profits. Management may have got their sums wrong. Bought supplies at the wrong price. A fledgling business needs time to grow, profits some way off but employee support remains essential. Within a business plan include rewards and recognition that recognize customer service, productivity and general support for your venture, not simply profit.
Long-term job security may be off the agenda, at least in writing. You can though, offer short-term incentives that motivate. Build them into your own monthly, even weekly, objectives. Recognize that you are a team, hopefully building a long-term future for all, not just for you. If you don’t need and value staff, why recruit them in the first place?…
‘Alas, poor Yorick, I am unable to offer you a job for life,
but I can make you feel wanted…’
Peter Boxall 2019