Having an experienced, knowledgeable employee leave your company - for any reason - can be an expensive event. It may cost thousands of dollars or more to conduct an appropriately thorough hiring process, resulting in a loss of productivity in the meantime. And even after the new hire is made, it may take months for them to get up to speed.

Therefore, it's clear worker retention should be a top priority for any business. But how do you achieve it? Many companies think they can just throw money or better benefits at the problem, but it's not that simple: a recent poll of Australians by Rise Consulting found that two-thirds of employees valued happiness in their jobs over making money. Even more - 72% - said they'd be happier at work if they felt valued.


A perfect opportunity

With that in mind, there are many companies for which a comprehensive, high-quality employee incentive program would likely yield a significant return on investment, especially with the help of strong HR consulting. That's because happy employees tend to become more engaged in their day-to-day work and are more eager to hit their goals in a given review period. Being recognised for that hard work is a big part of what generates happiness among staff.

As an added bonus, recognition programs cost far less than giving everyone in a particular department a raise, let alone doing so for the whole company. Joint research from psychologists in the U.S. and Canada recently found tangible non-cash rewards tend to be more effective motivators than money.

Where to begin

If you're looking to start an employee incentive program, the simplest way to do so is to ask your workers what they would want out of it. For some companies, the majority might say they'd really like a team lunch when meeting certain benchmarks. For others, smaller monetary rewards for top employees if they lead the company in specific areas over the course of a month or quarter might be preferred. Once you have a good idea of what would make your employees feel properly valued, you can start looking for ways to meet those preferences. 

Interestingly, an employee survey from Insync found that Australian small businesses were far more likely than their larger competitors to actively recognise and reward good work.


Getting it right

Once you know the basics of what your employees are looking for, it's time to actually put their wishes into practice. You can choose any of the below avenues to really celebrate your employees' hard work, but your mileage may vary based on the nature of your specific company's work.

  • Peer recognition: While it's certainly nice to have a supervisor tell you that you've done a great job, it's even more meaningful coming from a co-worker who knows what you've had to deal with on a daily basis. Giving employees the power to choose who gets these rewards will help make every award feel even more special.
  • Awards for different departments: Many companies may institute Employee of the Month awards, but that can be a fairly exclusive club. If workers are generally aware that someone has been doing a particularly good job of late, they might not work as hard since they know the one award is likely out of reach. The more incentives are being granted - for a variety of achievements - the more likely people will be to strive for their various goals.
  • Quarterly bonuses or profit sharing: While financial incentives or awards like cash or gift cards are great, they may be seen as having limited value. However, if you institute an incentive program that provides prizes or bonuses based on the quality of work being done by the whole company, employees will be more likely to keep striving to improve.

As with anything else in business, you shouldn't expect to score big with your incentive program right off the bat. Setting up a program with Ulton's help, and then giving it time to evolve into a huge employee engagement generator will help your bottom line significantly in the long run. Get in touch with us today to learn more about what we can do for you.

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