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Nov 6, 2012 by Oz Nazilli in PM Best Practices & News

How to Make Employee Incentives Feel Meaningful

As an employer, you will probably already know the value of good employee incentives. They can really boost morale in the workplace and this is exactly the sort of thing you need at a time when many colleagues might be concerned about the threat of redundancy or wage freezes.

The current economic climate is making life difficult for a lot of businesses and their employees as well, so a few staff incentives really can go a long way to improving the atmosphere in the office and ensuring everyone is motivated and trying their best.

But how do you come up with meaningful incentives employees will actually appreciate? And how do you do this without breaking the bank? Here are a few ideas…

Flexitime

Providing the nature of your business allows it, introducing flexitime is an excellent way to motivate employees. It won’t cost you any money because people are still doing the same amount of work, but they have the option of coming in earlier or staying later if necessary. This is something employees really appreciate because it means they can leave work early to catch a train if they are going somewhere, or come in late if they’re waiting for a delivery or have an urgent matter to deal with at home.

A good idea is to introduce flexitime with a two-hour window at either end of the working day. So for example, employees could come in at any time between 8am and 10am, then leave at any time between 4pm and 6pm, depending on what time they started. What is more, this shows you trust employees to manage their time effectively, which is a great confidence boost.

It’s the little things that matter
It’s the small things that often make people feel really appreciated in the workplace and like you really value them being there. If your company isn’t too big, get the HR department to put reminders in a calendar whenever it’s an employee’s birthday. A few days before, buy them a card and get everyone to sign it. This is the kind of gesture that really goes down well and will only cost you a pound/dollar or two.

Praise good work – don’t just focus on bad
Obviously when your staff members make mistakes with their work, you need to speak to them about it and discuss any issues or concerns they might have. But all too often it seems like employees are pulled up on bad work and not praised for the good things they do. Make a real effort to change this and create a more positive atmosphere in the work place. Perhaps you could introduce some kind of reward scheme for people to work towards? The prize doesn’t have to be particularly large or expensive, but it is the gesture and recognition of good work that will make a difference.

Health and wellness
Staying fit and healthy is a big deal these days and it has become increasingly important to a lot of people. The problem is, gym memberships are expensive and a lot of employees simply don’t have the time to go. Show that you support your staff members both in and out of the office by arranging discounted memberships with a local gym. If it’s nearby, encourage them to go during their lunch break and allow them to take an extra ten minutes so they have time to eat and get changed as well as fit in a good workout. This is a win-win-win situation because the gym gets more members, your employees get the benefit of the volume discount, and you get happier employees!

These things might not seem like much, but you could find making an effort makes all the difference. After all, it is usually the small things that add up to a happy workplace.

This is a guest post by Janice Lincoln, who is a freelance writer specializing in employee incentives.

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Oz Nazilli

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