A workplace culture that goes beyond the perks of the job
There are certain professions where the perks can inspire you get job envy. Casual dress, big discounts or longer holiday time for workers in other companies can make your staff jealous, but the grass isn’t always greener when jobs come with built in benefits.
It’s easy to think of university staff that because they get longer breaks they don’t need extra benefits, but it doesn’t work like that. Psychological distress affects nearly half of UK university academics, highlighting that university employers need to do more to help motivate their teams and help manage their stress. The same envy can go towards Google employees for all their perks - but there a lot of downsides to go with them.
Incentives, rewards and motivation techniques are three very important tools that can help make jobs even better. We’ll look at the benefits, and why you shouldn’t neglect staff just because they have may have more perks as part of their job.
Having a slide to take instead of the stairs, or playing table tennis on your meeting room table might be cool, but it’s not necessarily the best way to motivate staff. Employees want boosts or encouragement in the form of an incentive to help them stay engaged with the role, with 70% saying incentives make a difference to their motivation at work.
Businesses who try to offer Google-like experiences by including free rides to work or even bringing pets into the office might make staff happy temporarily, but does it result in more productivity? 44% of millennials believe financial incentives make an organisation an attractive employer, yet 32% also took a lower salary then expected, so there is an opportunity to reward staff with monetary gifts and they don’t have to be expensive.
Peninsula, the employment law consultant made into the list of the top ten UK companies to work for down to its incentive rewards programme. A safety technical advisor for the company reviewed why it is a good place to work, saying:
“I have found that Peninsula recognises, in most cases its employees are its greatest asset and the company tries hard to retain those who are motivated and demonstrate their achievements through a high standard of training and incentives.”
It’s also important to consider adding incentives that are realistic to the workforce. Netflix staff may have unlimited holidays, but not every business can offer that. Yes, longer holidays might be wanted by a lot of your staff but it doesn’t always result in increased motivation.
Going back to university academics, the envious comment is usually about them having longer breaks but there are downsides to the job. According to The Guardian, University College of London, which is credited for being one of the best universities in the world, saw 85% of its staff report that the teaching facilities are inadequate for the number of students and 68% disagreed with the statement ‘UCL is well managed’.
For university staff, a more feasible approach might be to offer incentives of working from home or more flexible working hours, where staff have can fit their working schedules more around commitments outside of work such as family.
University staff do have some free periods which can be a few hours, so giving them the chance to work from home to catch up in a less hectic environment might be achievable. The academic staff at universities may be restricted to timetables but for operational staff on campus, office roles may have more of an opportunity to work from home or have flexible working hours.
We all like to be rewarded for a hard graft, so why shouldn’t it be the same when it comes to your job? 88% of employees agree it’s important that employers reward employees for great work, but does giving staff extra gifts translate into a more attractive working environment? Yes.
Glassdoor has ranked Expedia, the online travel agent as the best place to work in the UK for 2016 and 2017. The reason? Their employees are overwhelmingly positive about what’s on offer , with benefits including reimbursements for leisure travel every year, regular company events and activities as well as employee rewards and recognition.
Quite simply, Expedia staff are rewarded for doing well and have perks that most people would love to have, so their employees are motivated to work hard so they continue to get recognised.
Having a recognition programme in place to reward staff is effective, with 69% of employees saying that they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better appreciated.
Rewards don’t have to cost the earth; small gestures can go a long way such as cinema tickets or vouchers for meals on a night out for hard-working employees. Other options can be taking teams out for lunch or a small gift such as flowers or a quirky desk object to show your gratitude.
On the flip side, the University of Lincoln recently launched a new employee benefits scheme for all its staff, which features an online map of Lincoln where users can hover over a place to find a location where a staff benefit is offered. The travel centre in Lincoln also links to other employee benefits such as its cycle to work scheme and travel season ticket loans.
If you can invest more in rewarding your staff, having a scheme like this in place can help employees feel more appreciated and help with employee engagement. With over a third of employees strongly agreeing or agreeing with the statement ‘appreciation is best demonstrated with money’, financial rewards must be considered to get the best out of some.
One of the best approaches to help staff feel motivated in their job is to make them feel great about themselves, and there are plenty of opportunities businesses can do that. Employers need to help shift how employees feel about their position, as one in three people claim they have a job, not a career.
For businesses to make their staff feel good, it comes down to the company culture. That doesn’t mean bringing hammocks into the breakout space of the office will fix everything. It comes down to the business’ aims, ethos and management.
Effective leaders are key to helping employees stay and feel motivated, with 35% of millennials saying strong leadership defines a good work culture. Leadership is an ongoing process, but an important part of being a good leader is by listening to your employees and doing your best to support them, which sounds like an obvious point but it is often neglected.
Looking at the wider point, as a business, do you support management enough? Gallup’s report into managers in the US found 51% of managers are not engaged in their jobs and a further 14% are actively disengaged.
Given that managers and high academic staff influence teams of tens, hundreds and potentially the entire workforce depending on how far up they are in the company, this can have a negative effect on company culture. After all, would you feel motivated to work hard if your boss isn’t engaged themselves?
Having a culture where staff are satisfied with the recognition they get is also important, with 75% of employees who receive recognition on at least a monthly basis are satisfied with their job. Introducing a recognition scheme where workers can receive constructive feedback and be thanked for their hard work can result in more motivated people in the office.
Another way to make the best jobs even better is with wellbeing strategies, which are increasing in popularity among employers, giving focus on employees’ lives outside of work and other ways to make them feel good about themselves.
Reba Global’s Employee Wellbeing Research 2017 found that the top three current wellbeing initiatives offered are employee assistance programmes, discounted or free gym memberships and health screenings. These are great schemes to offer but there are others which can help employees out further.
Financial wellbeing is a big focus for employees, with The Money Advice Service estimating one in six UK adults are living with problem debt – so there is an opportunity to offer finance support in sessions or make resources available – such as money saving or financial planners apps to help people manage their money worries.
Making businesses more supportive such as providing help with mental health can be crucial to helping employees feel more engaged, as 62% of employees reported work was a contributing factor to their mental health.
Including schemes to aid workers who may be suffering with their wellbeing can positively impact employee motivation and create a healthier workplace culture, where stigmas around subjects like mental health are stopped.