Imaginative ways of rewarding staff
There's an old adage which says the most valuable asset in any business walks out of the door at the end of each day. The trick is to make sure they walk back the following morning, and that when they do they are keen and well motivated.
In the days when money was not so tight the cheque book had a big part to play, providing regular sizeable pay rises. But for most companies those days are long gone and unlikely to return in the near future. That means managements need to be more inventive and use a range of other techniques to keep a team happy. But you need to take great care in the way they are used or what was intended to spread goodwill can turn sour.
Financial rewards for high levels of performance are still being awarded. But how high should they be and how should they be judged? Do you pay a whole group or department of people because everyone made a contribution? Or do you single out an exceptional individual?
Sometimes businesses veer away from financial bonuses to avoid the potential fall-out and instead opt for a treat such as a spa day. The snag here is that you have to be sure that everyone sees it as a treat. If you select an activity that doesn't appeal widely you can end up alienating some staff and so having the opposite effect to the one intended.
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More companies are sticking to safer ground and helping to raise morale by promoting things like a healthy workplace. The Chamber of Commerce recently held an event at which our member, Sirona Care and Health, explained about the benefits which can be felt both by the business and the employees when a company signs up to their work place charter. Eating better and exercising more is a simple recipe but it actually works. Individuals feel better and the business performs better as there's good evidence that productivity increases absenteeism reduces.
Another way in which morale can be improved is by a business getting involved in volunteering. We are seeing an ever increasing number of requests from charities who are feeling the funding pinch. More and more they are looking to businesses to help and often it's not so much money they are after but manpower.
Some of those charities work with young people who are suffering from one difficulty or another and helping them get into work. That means they often need mentors or advisers to help them learn about what will be needed to make them employable and find a job.
There are lots of charities around and it's regularly reported that people who act as volunteers get a lot out of it and enjoy the feeling of satisfaction. That sense of positivity feeds back into the business so everyone gains.
Ian Bell, executive director of Bath Chamber of Commerce