Home Features Employee benefits and staff motivation
Employee benefits and staff motivation
Written by Iain McMath, managing director, Sodexo Motivation Solutions   
Friday, 19 August 2011 11:39

Employee benefits are a crucial part of your motivation strategy.


Benefits and motivation

Cutbacks are still very much on the news agenda, and small and medium-sized businesses are no more exempt from this than the large Corporates we hear about so often. Whether your business is surviving and thriving despite the fragile recovery, or you’re still struggling with the aftermath of recession, SME owner-managers continue to look for areas where they can cut costs and save a few pounds. But it’s vital to balance the desire to trim the fat with the need to keep the company moving forward – and staff motivation is a vital element of this.

Employee benefits are a crucial part of your motivation strategy, and you should think twice before slashing any benefits programmes you’re currently running (it may be that you can find more cost-effective solutions if you shop around, but the return on your benefits investment – if well-communicated –should far outweigh the cost).

Rewarding employees for exceptional work and meeting challenging targets, or implementing an ‘employee of the month’ scheme, can motivate staff to achieve more and ultimately help make small businesses more successful.  

Creating your own employee benefits package


The advantage of creating your own employee benefits package is that you can tailor it to fit the needs and interests of your staff. While some employees will respond to rewards such as shopping vouchers, others can benefit from a salary sacrifice scheme to help with childcare costs, or the more health or environmentally-conscious may prefer a cycle-to-work scheme. Flexible employee benefits mean that SMEs can now compete with the remuneration packages of much bigger companies. 

And tailoring your benefits package to the needs of your staff can make them feel more appreciated and rewarded than a one-size-fits-all solution, leading to a greater work ethic and higher levels of achievement. This can be an invaluable tool for retaining key staff. 

Childcare and shopping vouchers are good options for your pick-and-mix benefits package as they have a high perceived value whilst costing you relatively little. Vouchers encourage employees to perform better, and have the ‘gift’ factor over cash bonuses which they have to pay tax on. Childcare vouchers carry tax incentives for both employees and employers and have proven to be an invaluable resource for thousands of hardworking parents.

Motivation


But incentives and benefits don’t work if they’re not communicated effectively to all of your staff. In fact they can have the opposite effect if, for example, one employee receives vouchers whilst his colleague doesn’t, and it’s not clear why to either of them. This can lead to resentment in the work-force.

Conveying what an employee will receive when they put the extra effort in is a key part of motivating them to do more, and congratulating them for achieving such objectives, in a structured, pre-determined manner, will act as a motivating factor for both them and their colleagues. Healthy competition between staff can provide excellent results for SMEs, and employees can justify treating themselves and their families to something they wouldn’t usually be able to. 

With a well-communicated, tailored benefits package, a rise in staff motivation will be noticeable. You should find that the office atmosphere improves because parents are worrying less about the cost of childcare, your employees feel valued for their ‘above and beyond’ contributions, or staff are getting healthier by using their tax-efficient bikes to ride to work. 

Research has proven that a happier workforce is a more productive one and that people stay longer in their roles. By offering flexible benefits and incentives, you can encourage staff to reach their full potential and award them for doing so. And with modern online platforms designed to manage the benefits in an integrated way you can implement your own system with little fuss – even if you, alone, are the HR department!

 

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