You may have benefits and compensation packages that are competitive, but if your company’s employees don’t feel recognized and appreciated, your top talent could still be at risk of leaving. In some industries, that’s a very big deal; as unemployment rates fall, employees can afford to be choosier about their options, and headhunters reap a bounty of new talent. HR directors have to find ways of attracting new personnel and retaining the rock stars that already work for you.
Offering a competitive salary is just the beginning of hiring and retaining talent. Employees also crave recognition and appreciation for a job well done. Wages are the expected benefit of working, but rewarding personnel for going beyond the standard is what ensures lasting loyalty. A winning formula for attracting promising candidates and keeping the best of the talent you have should focus on two elements: performance and behavior.
Incentive programs, merit pay, and performance-linked raises draw a direct connection between how much an employee contributes to your organization’s success and how he or she is rewarded. Even when the performance-based part of the raise or bonus is a fraction of employees’ total income, it matters more to them. Successful performance-based reward programs share some important characteristics:
- Specificity – Let people know precisely what they did that earned a bonus. Did they meet sales goals, complete a project ahead of schedule, or improve work processes in some way? Tell them about it.
- Publicity – Praise matters most when others hear it too. When rewarding an employee for going above and beyond, make an announcement about it at a meeting or send an email to the whole staff.
- Individuality – You aren’t just rewarding performance; you’re rewarding a person. Having a supervisor write a personal note of recognition or being awarded a bonus by the company president is a good way to let people know their efforts are recognized and personally appreciated throughout the organization.
Sometimes, it isn’t only the worker who completes a monumental task that merits recognition; it’s also the worker who delivers consistent quality. The people who never miss a day of work and always arrive early so they can greet everyone else in the office with a smile deserve to have their winning ways celebrated too. Behavior rewards often involve subtler cues than those that rely on quantifiable performance goals or individual projects, but they’re just as important to workers.
The key to a well-received reward for good behavior lies in understanding what employees value most about themselves. Someone who has plenty of great suggestions for improvement probably thinks of herself as an innovator, whereas the office party planner and social coordinator might take pride in his contributions to a pleasant office culture. Know what people believe are their best traits and reward them for it, and they’re certain to be pleased.
Rewarding your personnel also gives you an ideal opportunity to influence company culture. Do you want to recognize the employees who do the most to delight your customers and boost retention, or are the people who are bringing in the most leads and focusing on acquisition your superstars? You might reward the mentors among you to foster a culture of helping others succeed or give your free thinkers kudos to encourage a philosophy of innovation.
Give your personnel the recognition they crave, and they’ll reward you in turn with outstanding performance and dedication.