In this interview with Katie Richard, Bill Alexander, CEO of Red Letter Days, reveals why rewarding your employees during tough economic times is key, and offers tips on how to improve your reward programme despite a limited budget.
Q. What trends are you noticing within the reward sector?
A. Current trends that we are seeing are around rewarding teams vs individuals as the money can go further, i.e. more people recognised for achievement. We’re also seeing an increase in incentive travel, which is a positive sign for the industry. Companies seem to be investing in these types of large trips, which is great.
Q. In challenging economic times, how and why should HR be rewarding employees?
A. During difficult economic times it is important for companies to continue focusing on engagement and ensuring that they retain top employees. When the economic situation improves, it will be critical to have your best staff still on your team. It’s short-sighted for businesses to abandon engagement and reward platforms during this time.
The best tactic would be to use more innovative and creative ways to recognise employees. Instead of eliminating the platform, it’s critical to invest in employees in a practical way. Obtain their feedback and ideas on the best way to do this. Remember, happy employees=happy customers=healthy bottom line. This equation is tried and true. The main thing to focus on is driving your business forward; you can only do this with an engaged and motivated employee base.
Q. What kind of issues are your clients facing? In what way can reward boost morale, retention and productivity?
A. A successful reward platform can work to effectively engage your employees, increase morale and retention, and drive productivity and innovation. One way to avoid the pitfalls of a poorly managed reward platform is to review the structure and nature of how you deliver rewards.
Be consistent and fair in how you deliver the rewards. Make sure that everyone on your team is recognised for a certain behaviour or practice, not the same salesperson or employee each time. Additionally, it’s critical that you have buy-in from senior level staff across the business and that they’re encouraged to participate and reward their employees. If you get these basic points right, your engagement programme will deliver consistent ROI for your business and more importantly, it will be reflected in company culture.
Q. What can HR do if they have limited budget? Who should they be rewarding or how can they incentivise the wider employee population?
A. Limited budgets shouldn’t fully restrict the implementation of your reward programme. With access to limited funds you will need to be more creative and make the most of the resources you do have. Think of rewarding slightly less and you can reach more people.
It’s very important to look at the middle 60% of your employee base; this is the group you want to focus heavily on. Your top 20% will remain engaged, and unfortunately your bottom 20% will usually be disengaged and unmotivated, but boosting engagement for your middle 60% is key. Small, spot rewards usually work quite well with limited budgets – things like scratch cards, vouchers, or even raffle prizes are great. Remaining flexible and open minded will help you maintain your reward programme in spite of limited budgets.
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