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Change staff behaviour with a recognition and rewards strategy

Otto Remke
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Rewards strategy

You know what it's like to run a team or a business: your greatest asset is your employees, who also happen to be your greatest challenge! As a manager or CEO, how do you go about effecting a culture change, or even just motivating your employees to perform? Read on to find out!

Validation drives staff behaviour changes

It's human nature for people to seek validation. Some people are motivated by recognition, others by time off, and some by financial rewards. However, it's nearly impossible to know who responds to what and what forces managers to use a one-size-fits-all employee motivation programme.

The common factor for all employees is the need to be singled out for the right reasons. This is why designing a recognition and rewards strategy needs to speak to the emotions of your employees so that, if performing well or poorly, the strategy links employee behaviours to that which the business wants to encourage. This is a key principle in changing hearts, minds and bringing about employee behaviour changes.

Happy staff means a happy future

Everyone wants to build a business that lasts... Nothing is more expensive than a high staff turnover, so keeping your employees on board with a recognition and rewards strategy that actually works is key.

Small change = big impact

Here are a few things that a well-structured recognition and rewards strategy can affect:

  • Absenteeism,
  • Shrinkage,
  • Improved productivity,
  • Lower staff turnover,
  • Employee morale, and
  • Happier customers

Small changes have a big impact on the bottom line, e.g. improving profits by lowering absenteeism, and reducing training cost and recruitment fees based on lower staff turnover. But how can this be done?

2 Things you must have for a successful recognition and rewards strategy programme

1. Business intelligence: The system should be viewed as a business tool, providing feedback and business intelligence to management concerning the state of the company. This should equip leadership with the tools to realign strategies more efficiently.

2. Younger generations' engagement: The younger generations are easily bored, but very receptive to technology and change. Your programme should therefore be dynamic and have enough flexibility to change to remain relevant and interesting for your employees to engage with continually.

Employee management

8 Things to consider when driving employee behaviour change

There are many factors to consider when designing a recognition and rewards strategy programme geared towards motivating your staff. These include:

1. Age groups and gender,

2. Skill levels,

3. Generational divides,

4. Cultural divides,

5. Workforce size,

6. The extent of the change required,

7. Workforce demographics, and

8. Fairness and inclusivity.

Can one size fit all?

Every business is unique and designing a programme that actually delivers on its promise to change behaviour is harder than it sounds. So unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution that is going to suit every business. The design of a programme that delivers results takes a lot of experience, a powerful platform and a fair amount of creative flair.

How to get your recognition and rewards strategy right

1. Business leaders want to inspire their staff to be accountable and take full responsibility for their actions so make sure you give your team the freedom to impress and excel, otherwise your initiative will backfire and actually cause more unhappiness and even resentment.

2. Make sure the programme is meaningful as this is the best way to get staff to buy into it.

3. Keep it simple. You have many levels of staff and a mixture of culture and aptitude so make sure your employees understand the way the strategy works.

4. Don't just go through the motions to use up the budget allocation. If you take recognition of your staff seriously then you will reap the rewards.


Otto Remke Otto Remke graduated from UNISA in 1995 with a B.Com degree, majoring in marketing management and industrial psychology.

After a 9 year stint in the printing industry, personally developing and marketing UNIQUE printed products, he joined his wife’s 8 year old creative agency and immediately pursued ideas to develop staff recognition programmes for companies.

This 10 year journey has yielded remarkable results, with creatively tailored programmes having been developed for companies in a number of different industries. January 2014 has seen the launch of the most exciting programme to date which provides clients in almost any industry, with an amazing set of tools to execute their own recognition and rewards programmes, while getting  full support!

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