Appreciating Employees

As companies compete to attract and retain top employees, they are realizing salary is only one piece of the puzzle. When salary is no longer the deal-breaker, employers turn toward unusual rewards to entice new talent and keep valuable employees.

The Mother’s Day Project

In honor of Mother’s Day, the women of Jacks Merchandising in Oklahoma City received a week of gifts. Every woman in the organization was honored, including the spouses of all the male employees. Each day, the women received a different gift — a card, a booklet about mothers, a flower, candy and a book of their choice. For women who worked in the field or were spouses of men in the field, each were mailed the gifts. The same type of reward will be given to the men of Jacks Merchandising on Father’s Day.

Women were honored regardless of parental status as a way of offering support to all employees, especially those facing the difficult struggle of balancing work and family. Jacks Merchandising strives to create a flexible atmosphere conducive to attracting and retaining good employees, and this project was an unusual way to emphasize its policy and recognize its staff at the same time.

“In the past 10 to 20 years the workplace has changed dramatically, and we want our employees to know we understand their changing needs,” says Vistage Member Kent Humphreys, CEO of Jacks Merchandising. “We had an unbelievable response. This was the most successful program we have ever done.

“We wanted to let our employees know we care about them as people and we understand their roles outside the office are important, too. Today, loyalty is something we should value in our employees, and anything we can do in a unique way to let them know we appreciate them provides us with tremendous rewards.”

Unique Rewards

The Mother’s Day project was a success because it was original, individual and unique. Ideas for rewards can vary in the expense of time and money. Here are some rewards currently offered by a variety of companies:

On-site rewards:

  • Exercise facilities
  • Saunas
  • Concierge service — a daily service to run errands for busy employees
  • Children’s day-care facilities
  • Live piano music in the cafeteria
  • Masseurs offering 20-minute massages once a month
  • Unlimited fountain sodas in the cafeteria
    One-time events:
  • Movies — leave work for an afternoon show at the local theater
  • Amusement Parks — invite employees and families to spend a Saturday at a local park
  • Baseball games — load up a bus and spend an afternoon at the ball park
  • Laser Tag — a great chance for camaraderie and exercise during an extended lunch hour
  • Snow days — trucking in snow for a day of fun (definitely for warm climates)
  • Charity events — allow people to donate their time during work for an organized charity function
  • Cars — a Matchbox for their desk, remote-control for the office or BMW for the parking lot
  • Tickets — to concerts or sporting events
  • Trips — weekend get-aways or retreats
  • Gym membership — a month or year pass to a local gym
  • Clothing gift certificates — to help employees develop their professional wardrobes
  • Frozen turkeys — one given away in a random drawing each day of November
    Ongoing rewards:
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Wellness programs
  • Yoga
  • Seminars
  • Car allowances
  • Luncheons or breakfasts
    Non-Cash rewards:
  • Casual work days
  • Time off
  • Window offices
  • Choice of parking spots
  • Lunch or dinner with the boss
  • Employee discounts
  • Recognition in newsletter or company publicationDeveloping a Comprehensive Rewards Plan“In the next five years, recruiting, retaining and rewarding employees is going to be a key component in any company’s success. Due to the decreasing number of top employees in the marketplace, this is going to get harder and harder to do. Creating a rewards or incentive program not only improves the lifestyle of the employees, but it helps them develop an ownership mentality within a company,” says Vistage Speaker Karen Jorgensen of Jorgensen & Associates.According to Karen, there are nine questions you should ask before starting a compensation plan:
  • What is your company’s strategic advantage?
  • What are your three business priorities for the coming year?
  • What specific measurements will you use for those priorities?
  • How much additional or incremental profit or cash are you willing to share with employees if business objectives are met or exceeded?
  • How much financial data do you want to share?
  • Who participates in the compensation decisions?
  • What is your desired competitive cost?
  • Do you want the total compensation package for employees to be above, below or at market level?
  • Do you want base salary above, below or at market level?10 Success Factors for a Rewards PlanOnce you have created a basic plan of action, Jorgensen suggests focusing on 10 important areas to increase the success of your compensation plan.
  • Have a strategic plan. You must have a clear strategic vision for your company — what you want to achieve in the coming year and how you want to influence employee behavior.
  • Link the rewards to business priorities.
  • Track success. Set specific individual, team and organizational goals and keep track of them on a consistent, ongoing basis. Dedicate one person to be accountable for this activity.
  • Employees must have ownership of their areas. Empower your employees to own their work and feel like they can make a difference. If management has too much discretion, it looks arbitrary to the employee.
  • Have a sunset. Every plan must have a specified ending date. Sunsets can be quarterly, yearly or every couple of years, but never create a plan without an end.
  • Separate the incentive from the base pay. Make it clear that the incentive is different. Pay with a different check. Keep base pay at or below market standards, with large increases on the incentive side. Five percent of base pay should be the minimum for any incentive. Anything less won’t motivate people.
  • Build flexibility into the plan.
  • Communicate the plan. This must be consistent and ongoing.
  • Simplify the plan. Employees at all levels should be able to understand the plan.
  • Celebrate victories

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