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Boost staff performance with valued incentives


In his previous blog, Richard Harrison of Boost & Co member Geminus Training explained how organisational innovation is driven by capitalising the knowledge, experience and creativity within your workforce.

But how do we achieve that? There’s one very simple solution. It’s a common misconception that the way to get your staff to perform better is to incentivise them with financial rewards - pay rises, bonuses, etc. Ask your staff and many of them will confirm this.

Here's the show stopper - that’s because they often don’t know themselves what drives their desire and passion to work. If you give them a pay rise this week, what will you give them next week, or the week after when the happiness from having a little more money has worn off? Let’s go back to that same example from our last blog where the £5.00 solution led to a series of other spin-off benefits.

To briefly remind ourselves, the staff solved a problem for £5.00 while the management team has proposed a £15,000 solution. Whenever one of the team walked past the new £5.00 solution, they smirked to themselves, and in their mind you could see them smugly (but in jest) flicking the good two-fingers at the MD’s office. There was no malice, but it was their way of saying ‘WE owned that problem, WE solved that problem, and WE just saved the company the £15,000 you were going to spend on the solution.’

But these people had never cared in their life about company budgets, so what changed? When we look into the detail, it isn't actually that surprising. If we consider the basic human drivers for reward, we find that there are four groups of factors the give people pleasure at work. 

These are:

  1. Financial rewards - extra money including pay rises, bonuses, share options or other rewards which can be assigned a financial value - extra holidays, a weekend break, etc.
  2. Recognition from peers - some people seek a simple ‘thank you’ or ‘well done.’ These people tend to do that little bit extra in the hope that it gets seen and acknowledged by their colleagues and management team
  3. Achievement - for many individuals (especially the technically minded) achieving an outcome or solving a problem is satisfaction in itself. It’s the proverbial ‘putting the last piece in the jigsaw’ feeling which gives them a glow of fulfilment.
  4. Moral reward - the final factor is the self-acknowledgement that you’re dome something good for a greater cause. You’ve helped your colleagues to do their job better, or you’ve made your business a better place to work or able to achieve more.

Most people don’t recognise that these factors are so influential in driving their happiness and engagement within the workplace. Many would deny the strength of these drivers until they had actually experienced them, as this case study has shown.

The major driver here is that financial rewards have a limited impact and are not usually repeated on a regular basis, while the others are pretty much infinitely repeatable. They give the recipient a ‘buzz’ which they want to experience over and over again. Ultimately, this ‘buzz’ gave them the drive to want to solve more problems in the business.

Those who weren’t involved in the generation of the first solution wanted to be a part of the ‘buzz’ and get involved with their own areas. Where there wasn’t a problem, the staff looked for ways to make things better. Soon the business became a self-improving entity without the need for management intervention. The management team knew what was happening and loved it.

'The staff are beginning to think for themselves' one told me. Another said 'They used to ignore us or come to us with problems - now they improve things with their own initiative or come to us to ask about support for new ideas.' The moral of this blog is that money can’t always buy you happiness.

I suppose the other moral is that the management team don't always have the best ideas, and you overlook the collective knowledge, experience and creativity within your workforce at your peril! 

If you’d like to know more about how Geminus Training can help your business prosper, please feel free to contact Richard at richard@geminustraining.com. 


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