My vast readership usually lands here and finds case studies addressing real-world problems that tend to pop up with regularity in today’s workplaces. This time, however, I’d like to address the topic of incentives during hard economic times.
The best supervisors, in addition to all the work they do themselves, manage to let the people who work for them know that they’re seen, known, and that they’re appreciated for what they bring to the organization. Recognition ranges from big and small tangible rewards, to awards and official recognition, to good human eye contact, a simple handshake, and heartfelt expression of gratitude. A workplace may not ever be a family like The Waltons, but there’s a human reality that occurs when people come together 8+ hours every day that supervisors both help create and experience.
Here are a few of the most common ways to acknowledge your valued employees:
Material rewards: Bonuses, cash prizes, gift cards, free turkeys – all those “old favorites” continue to be highly valued by employees.
Recognition: There’s a reason why virtually any organization with more than 25 employees recognizes an employee of the month; it works. Profiles in newsletters, pictures on the wall, getting to park in the big boss’s parking space for a week, etc; they’re gestures, sure, but they resonate to deep needs inside most people.
Appreciation: It may seem like only a minor distinction, but appreciation can be expressed privately by a supervisor to a particular employee or a team without being formal recognition. When a supervisor says out loud that he or she sees the effort that went into a job well done, bringing specificity and awareness of the particular challenges met by those employees, many people report there’s almost nothing better than that authentic moment – even including material rewards.
The gift of time: Not all supervisors are even in the position to offer it, but these days almost nothing matches the opportunity to get away early, be given an afternoon off, flex with a fellow employee, or otherwise have a few hours drop into an employee’s lap which allows him or her time to shop, prepare, fit something in, have bonus family time, or just grab a nap. More and more, on anyone’s list of wants and needs, “more time” tops the list.
So, even in a time of economic austerity, there are proven ways – often with no cost involved – to show your employees that you notice and appreciate a job well done.