It is hard to deny that the UK is facing a challenging economic time ahead. Just last week, it was announced that the economy had shrunk by 0.2% between April and June – the first time it has contracted since 2012 – and this announcement was quickly followed, perhaps inevitably, by a further drop in the already beleaguered pound.
Whilst opinions vary, many experts have expressed concern that the UK is headed for another recession (which occurs when the economy contracts for two consecutive quarters) and some British business sectors are already showing serious signs of strain. The Office for National Statistics (ONS), which released last week’s economic data, highlighted that manufacturing output is falling and the construction sector is severely weakened.
With a ‘no-deal’ Brexit an increasingly likely outcome, it is possible that this turbulent picture could continue for some time and, sensibly, many businesses are doing all they can to prepare themselves for a tough period of trading ahead. These preparations are likely to include efforts to reduce the running cost of the business, and one area that organisations may find themselves looking to cut back on is reward and recognition activity. After all, with jobs potentially at risk, it is hardly appropriate to be spending money on ‘nice to have’ employee treats, right?
Well, perhaps it is not this straightforward. Whilst it is certainly wise to review all spending across the business when there is a difficult economic climate looming, there is a risk that ceasing to invest in the things that make employees feel valued by the company could have unintended consequences in the longer term. It is now more important than ever that your business remains productive and competitive, which means ensuring that you retain the best talent - and we know how big a part reward and recognition can play in staff retention. A recent study of 1,000 employees across UK businesses employing more than 500 people, conducted by CENSUSWIDE on behalf of Xexec, found that that work-life balance and recognition are amongst the things most likely to make employees stay loyal. It also found that one third of employees feel undervalued yet over a third of employers don’t have a recognition scheme in place.
The fact is, well-designed reward and recognition programs are rarely just ‘nice to have’. Indeed, it could be one of your most valuable tools when it comes to ensuring you retain the people who can help see you through the hard times ahead. And if you focus on the right things, a good scheme could actually help you save money.
Here are some ideas on how to spend wisely and ensure that you are getting the best value from your scheme.
Emphasise learning and development
Despite some misconceptions, rewarding employees does not necessarily mean offering them luxuries such as an expensive meal out. This type of reward undoubtedly has its place, but if budgets are more limited, look at ways to marry incentives that staff appreciate with the needs of the company - and a great way to do this is to invest in learning and development opportunities. Staff may become increasingly grateful for the chance to upskill if there is any risk of impending redundancies, as this can go a long way to help with future job security. And whilst investing in training may incur an initial outlay, your business will ultimately benefit from the new skills that employees bring back into the organisation.
Invest in wellbeing
It is well-publicised that we are facing a mental health crisis and the potential for increased social and economic turbulence ahead is unlikely to help matters. It is therefore more important than ever to pay attention to the wellbeing of your workforce – and offering resources that can support their physical and mental health is a particularly valuable part of any recognition programme. Neglecting the wellbeing of your employees is likely to lead to increased and longer-term sick-leave, whereas offering early interventions – such as counselling or mindfulness classes – can help keep people healthy and in work.
Shout about it
The more high-profile your reward scheme, the more engagement it will receive and therefore the more value it will offer – so it is worth taking some time to think about how you promote and communicate it throughout the business. Encouraging staff to share in each other’s achievements can help create a healthy culture, but also work to motivate everyone – after all, seeing a colleague widely praised and recognised for hard work is likely to encourage others to try and emulate the achievement. Accessibility of the scheme is also an important factor in increasing engagement levels and many businesses are now choosing to provide an online portal that can be accessed via a PC, tablet or phone.
Say thank you
Manners cost nothing. And simply expressing gratitude for a job well done, and for all of the effort and energy that people put into their jobs, can be as effective as even the most expensive of rewards. A recent series of psychological studies showed that we appreciate being needed and feel more socially valued when we have been thanked. Importantly, it also found that we are more likely to be helpful if we are thanked, making this one of the most cost-effective and efficient ways to boost productivity.
Learn how to build an effective reward and recognition programme in our e-book below.