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In the spirit of Christmas - it's always better to give than receive

December 6, 2010

As Christmas is approaching and many of us are thinking about presents for others I thought it appropriate to bring up the old adage of ‘it’s better to give than receive’. It is now more than ever grabbing the attention of top managers in organisations that to keep employees engaged and retain top talent organisations need to give more than employee wages each month. Despite there being a general lack of money within organisations currently for additional benefits, it appears that things with bells and whistles are good, but those small personal touches can make a big difference to motivation, satisfaction and ultimately employee engagement too.

It may seem intuitive to us that monetary rewards increase motivation, but numerous research papers show this to be a false premise with employees generally wanting more recognition and praise to continue to motivate them on a daily basis. It has been found that the key issue here is that it can be easy to give more money to people (obviously, budgets permitting!) but it is impersonal; with a rewards and recognition process which requires a personal touch this can go a long way to developing positive working relationships that not only engage but also retain employees. Additionally, with more Gen X and Gen Y employees entering into the employment system even more recognition and praise will be required as this is a generation used to instant messaging and dynamic news so no recognition from managers is likely to be difficult to adjust to.

Benefits do not need to cost the earth, which is good news in the current economy. Often research suggests that simple (and free!) things such as saying thank you for work done well, when done consistently and across the organisation, can make a significant impact to motivation, satisfaction and engagement levels. Some organisations have found that introducing a ‘perks point’ system, which works like reward points collected at supermarkets where at the end of the year a certain perk (such as a parking space) can be selected based on the number of reward points earned for recognition and praise, can have a significant effect on motivation to reach a certain reward but also shows that the organisation has a fair system in place that values their employees, recognising those that 'go that extra mile'.

Getting the benefits balance right can be difficult for all organisations, but consistently research has found it is better to provide employees with something rather than nothing, whether this should take the form of free appreciation, regular communication or expensive perks at the other end of the spectrum, it is generally better to give to employees to help improve or maintain employee engagement levels than purely expect them to work according to Scientific Management principles. To really work out what employees want, whether they currently feel recognised, areas of the organisation that are performing well where best practice can be shared and to really listen to what employees need to feel engaged for the future an employee engagement survey or our new I-Engage process would be the first stepping stone to developing a sound benefits process that motivates, satisfies and engages.

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