How businesses can make their staff happier - saying “thank you” more often will help

Yoga classes, massages and fresh fruit: small perks that can make employees feel valued

Did any of your staff take advantage of National Sickie Day this week and pretend to be unwell while secretly going to a job interview? The first monday of February saw an estimated 350,000 workers in the UK take the day off under the pretence of illness, with a quarter of the month’s job interviews thought to be conducted on that day, according to Hyper Recruitment Solutions.

Staff rewards can help employees feel valued and engaged at work and, according to research by Edenred, attempting to attract and retain the best performing staff will be the key driver behind companies changing their benefits systems this year. But what are the best ways to reward staff and keep them engaged?

HEALTH AND WELLBEING

Providing free fruit in the office, having a masseuse visit once a week, or giving staff the chance to exercise at work with free yoga classes can help employees perform better throughout the day.
Guy Mucklow, the Worcester-based chief executive of Postcode Anywhere, told the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) that it’s easy to stay slumped in a chair during a lunch break, which is why he provides his staff with plenty of incentives to exercise: “those who do exercise come back to their desks feeling rejuvenated and ready to crack on.” He claims that promoting a wellness culture in his workplace reduces the levels of absenteeism – and his company’s sick days are just a fifth of the UK’s national average.

GIVING PRAISE

Saying “thank you” may seem plain obvious – you may even feel as though you say it all the time – but uttering those two words to your staff can pay huge dividends.
Writing in Open Forum, chief executive of Provendus Group Mike Michelowicz said: “saying thanks about something specific may be the ultimate reward. If you do it selectively yet authentically, a thank you note may be pinned above your employee’s desk for years.”
Research from ILM last year showed that more than a third of staff said that better treatment from their managers and more praise would make them work harder. ILM chief executive Charles Elvin has pointed out that managers often fall short on this requirement without realising it: 69 per cent of those surveyed claimed they were “always” giving their staff feedback, but only 23 per cent of employees felt the same way.

PARTY PLANNING

Announcing that there will be a party or away day to reward staff for their hard work will be welcome news, but finding an activity that everyone will enjoy and appreciate can be a considerable challenge.
Getting staff to choose their own reward, which they can share as a group, could provide the perfect solution. Writing in Management Today, Jeremy Bullmore says the way to do this is to set only two conditions: “one, the budget can’t simply be divided up between them. And two, the outcome has to be... an event, an outing, a party that absolutely everyone, from top to bottom, should enjoy and benefit from.” But make sure you resist the instinct to step in and take charge, he adds.

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