Karen Austin, Team Leader
In our organisation we run a number of different schemes (mostly informal) that are geared to bolster motivation, retention and productivity among our colleagues:
- Themed team lunches: informal dialogue once a month to warm up the team, enabling them to get to know each other while discussing work related topics of common interest and benefit;
- Star of the month: highlighting the achievements of our colleagues by recognising them in a team meeting
- Team birthdays: a simple card and a cupcake from the team to help them celebrate;
- Secret Santa: ensuring that we keep this optional, light hearted and cheap is key to bringing some fun and festive cheer!
- Baking contest: different contests are excellent opportunity for our team members to show their unique personality, share hobbies and skills, our recent British Bake Off inspired contest went down a treat!;
- Volunteering programme: our staff are encouraged to volunteer for extra projects or tasks giving them the opportunity to share knowledge and feel valued and appreciated. Volunteering also increases employee commitment to the corporate culture and is beneficial for the team cohesion;
- Expressing an interest in the professional development of our staff and engaging them in opportunities to learn from each other.
Having said this, I have worked in many different organisations over the years and many of them have had similar schemes that have just not worked.
The key is that those behind our schemes appreciate that the success of ANY of them is underpinned by the broader organisational culture and invest just as much (if not more) in trying to get that right.
Even in organisations that can pay their staff hundreds of thousands of pounds a year, unless staff are purely motivated by the money, it is essential to also have a company culture that goes beyond offering perks and to recognise that providing a competitive salary and benefits scheme is no longer impressive — it’s expected.
Our advice would be to make employee recognition (not reward) part of your culture and language.
True engagement that is unshakable in even the darkest days is achieved through making a small effort everyday, paying attention to our staff and expecting the same from them. Loyalty breeds loyalty and respect breeds respect. Once you have this, it is likely that your staff will enjoy being at work so much that they will bring their own cakes and start their own Secret Santa and schemes that they implement themselves are always more effective.