What employees want: Rewards part of answer

Bryan Sampson

Times have changed. Simply offering a paycheck to an employee is no longer enough. With the U.S. employment rate at 3.7 percent, human resource professionals understand the challenge in recruiting top talent and retaining those employees once they’re on board.

Even as generations shift from just wanting a paycheck to wanting a balance between work and life and the opportunity to work for a cause,  the work force gravitates toward those companies and organizations that offer the best benefits and cultures. Employees want a career and lifestyle that makes them happy.

In response, businesses must become more strategic in their recruitment efforts.  In fact, companies that grow the fastest are those that have learned to attract talent from their competitors as well as younger generations. More and more passive candidates who aren’t actively combing through job ads remain unwilling to jump ship and join a new crew without an incentive package enticing them to contemplate the option. 

It’s clear we’ve never lived in such a connected world. Word of mouth from a friend or social media post is all it takes for employees to know where the grass is the greenest. That being said, the grass is greenest where it’s watered most, and implementing an employee award program constitutes a prudent investment.

In looking for that magic wand for rewards, business professionals must look to different categories, including intrinsic recognition.  Something small always goes a long way. As humans, we love being recognized for our efforts even if the reward is something as simple as a handshake and genuine thank you. With this attitude, an employee might feel more comfortable where they’re employed and not wonder whether or not their hard work would be valued more at a competitor offering a similar compensation package. Employee recognition and engagement is the oil that keeps the company motor running smoothly both with recruitment and retention.

The results of surveys conducted by such organizations as the Society of Human Resource Management confirm an unwritten company culture is established by employees who want to develop successful careers and how they perceive they’re treated and valued.

This begins with physical and emotional well-being. When employees feel appreciated, they find a greater purpose, engage more and perform at higher level. A greater purpose creates more opportunities through performance development and well-defined succession planning. These employees want to showcase their abilities, lead by example, assume more responsibility and influence business objectives.

Corporate Traditions, a company based in Utah, tracked a client through a strategic incentive program to lower costs associated with injuries and accidents. In this study, the company experienced a 50 percent decrease in accidents when an incentive was offered within federally defined regulations. Organizations can use a rewards program to not only promote a positive culture for existing employees, but also increase branding to recruit new employees. In the case of this client, employees were more likely to recommend their workplace to friends.

When organizations look to partners for rewards and recognition programs, they should look for companies that understand how to motivate employees, provide sound processes for retaining top talent and offer innovative options for rewards. Corporate Traditions offers gift cards and gift choices that allow employees to choose what they want.

In addition to different rewards options, a rewards partner must understand what events to celebrate with employees. Strategic rewards and recognition programs focus on years of service, holidays, spot awards, birthdays and safety.

With all this in mind, organizations can bring the human to human resources and make employees feel like a team member instead of just a number.