There are many benefits of incentives in the workplace:
- Increasing productivity
- Creating a culture of high performance
- Retaining top performers
- Motivating staff to exceed their goals
- Improving company morale
But today, we’ll be focusing on how employee rewards and recognition programs inspire your employees to embody your company’s core values.
Incentive rewards make your core values more than words on a page of HR collateral. Instead, your core values become a living, breathing thing that your employees can actively participate in.
The Importance of Core Values for Employee Engagement
Employee engagement is at an all-time low. In 2013, only 13% of employees reported they were engaged at work. Only one in eight workers reported they were committed to their job or felt they were making a positive impact to their organization.
Low employee engagement leads to lower productivity and a higher risk of turnover, which is costly for businesses. According to various studies, replacing a salaried employee can cost as much as twice their annual salary.
In a global study, the number one predictor of employee engagement (out of 91 possible factors) was a personal commitment to their company’s core values. This means that companies aren’t doing a good job of inspiring that commitment.
Leveraging the Benefits of Incentives in the Workplace to Inspire Your Staff
For the sake of organization, we’ll be breaking down things down into four Rs:
- Repetition: Repeat your core values as often as possible. Display them prominently. Mention them frequently. Educate your staff on why they’re important.
- Reinforcement: When any of your employees perform an action that embodies your company’s values, have a process in place to provide positive reinforcement.
- Recognition: Regularly create opportunities to recognize employees who are exhibiting your core values – both among their immediate team and the company at large. Recognition is an important form of social value and can be used to inspire other employees to follow positive examples.
- Reward: Finally, you want to make sure that the relationship between company values and self-interest are clearly communicated. Non-cash rewards are more effective agents of behavioral change than cash commission or verbal praise.
Repetition: Educating Your Employees on the Importance of Your Core Values
To quote Seth Godin: “Repetition…increases the authority and believability of what you have to say. Listeners go from awareness of the message to understanding to trust.” Repeat your core values early and often to solidify brand awareness among your staff. Provide pamphlets. Mention them in company meetings. Display them in your office. Maybe even use them in your email signature.
However, Godin cautions that repetition, without active participation from the listener, loses its meaning and becomes an annoyance.
You have to present an immediate value proposition for your employees and create buy-in. An effective way to do that is to appeal to self-interest. One of the benefits of incentives in the workplace is that they align the values of your company with the self-interest of your employees. Workplace incentives also provide pay-offs more frequently and with lower levels of investment than, say, a promotion. A promotion might seem a long way off for an employee, but they could be just a few points away from earning enough points to redeem for tickets to take their family to a movie.
Additionally, you can integrate interactive quizzes and trivia with your workplace incentive program to motivate your staff to engage with your core values in a way that’s more fun and rewarding than constant lectures.
Reinforcement: Making Real-time Examples Out of Positive Behavior
Awareness in one thing, but action is another. Being able to recite your core values means very little compared to actively living them out. Operant Conditioning – the psychology of behavioral change – states that behaviors that produce “a satisfying effect in a particular situation become more likely to occur again.”
You should offer positive reinforcement any time one of your employees performs an action that represents what your company stands for. Moreover, this reinforcement should be as immediate as possible.
At Incentive Solutions, we use Quick Points certificates for on-the-spot recognition of employees who are carrying out our core values. Our employees can enter the certificate number on our internal employee rewards and recognition site (or scan a QR code on their phone) to redeem their Quick Points toward millions of rewards from the same online catalog we provide to our clients.
To really drive our core values home, we even write out exactly which one our core values our employee exemplified to earn the reward. Many of our employees proudly collect their Quick Points certificates, pinning stacks of them to the cork boards above their desks.
Recognition: Emphasizing the Social Benefits of Incentives in the Workplace
In conjunction with Quick Points, we also make use of our Total Recognition Suite, which is a social media-inspired wall where our staff can give each other shout outs (again, based on our core values). These shout outs also carry reward point value. But, just as importantly, they are a valuable form of social recognition.
Employees who are recognized by their peers (or company leadership) are given company-wide visibility. Few things are more frustrating or disheartening for good employees than when their good work goes unnoticed.
On that same note, you should regularly recognize high-performing employees at team and company-wide meetings.
Reward: Make Employees Feel Valued
Finally, in order to really solidify the benefits of workplace incentives, you need to follow through by providing rewarding experiences for your employees. Non-cash and experiential rewards create a memorable emotional impact for employees – really creating a narrative for them that good things happen when they uphold your company values.
Incentives in the workplace helps your employees feel that their contribution are valued. Inspiring your staff to make a personal commitment to your company’s core values will improve engagement, create employee loyalty, and make your organization a great place to work for years to come. And your employees, by being more engaged, will provide better service to your customers, improving your bottom line and long-term growth!
Til next time,