ideas for employee appreciation week

Out of the Box Ideas for Employee Appreciation Week

By: Sarah Clayton
Communications and Campaigns Specialist, Achievers

Promoting a consistent culture of recognition is an essential component to employee engagement, but who says you can’t step up your appreciation game every once in a while? A good celebration tends to incite a positive atmosphere that is almost tangible to the touch – and the positivity is infectious. People’s smiles get a little bigger, the laughs a little louder and the residual feel-good attitude can be felt for days after. What’s not to love about that?

In the world of employee recognition, Employee Appreciation Day is the be-all and end-all of celebrations. In fact, some people (ourselves included) take it so seriously that we celebrate it for a whole week! If you’re keen on the idea of doing something extra special for your people to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day (or week), we’ve got some fantastic suggestions for you:

Fun and Games

My local gym (actually, it’s more like an adult playground) has a great little message on a wall that reads, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.”  There are numerous gratifying aspects of working, from building your career to meeting some amazing people, but I am a firm believer that everyone has an inner child who is just waiting to be let out to play. Here are some ways to indulge the inner child in all of your employees:

  1. Craft Room
    Fill a room with different art supplies and encourage your team to let their imaginations run free. If you have especially artistic employees, ask if they would like to share their skills through an art class.
  1. Games Room
    Puzzles, board games, cards – there are an infinite number of games out there. Games have come back in a big way in 2017, and they are the perfect way to facilitate some team bonding and to let off some steam in the process.
  1. Jumbo Games
    If you want to go big on the game front, rent a bigger game, like a ping pong or foosball table, for your employees to enjoy during the week.
  1. Trivia
    Have a condensed jeopardy type competition at lunch or put out random trivia questions throughout the day. To spice things up, add prizes.
  1. Throw Back Thursday: baby photo edition
    This one requires some prep, but is well worth the effort. Ask your team to bring in their baby photos in the days leading up to EAD/EAW, then compile the photos on a poster board and let the guessing begin. For added difficultly, sprinkle in some celebrity baby photos.
  1. Photo Booth
    Rent a photo booth (or get a Polaroid camera) for the office so your team can document the employee appreciation moments and get some new pictures to put up at their desks – or to share on social media. This has the added benefit of showing the outside world (think perspective employees) how cool and fun your workplace is.
  1. Comedy
    I have yet to meet someone who is not a fan of a good laugh. Reach out to a local comedy group and get someone in to get the chuckles going in the office. Who knows, maybe you even have a few comedians on your own employee roster.
  1. Scavenger Hunt
    There are SO many options with how to approach this. From items in the office to incorporating the surrounding neighborhood or having an ‘employee scavenger hunt’ (e.g. find someone who has completed a triathlon), there is huge potential to be creative here. Scavenger hunts are also a great way to promote inter-departmental collaboration and bonding.

Snacks and Treats

Snacks are fantastic, and I do not think it would be untrue to say that free snacks are an almost guaranteed slam dunk. Ever pay attention to what happens when the après meeting ‘leftover sandwiches are in the kitchen’ email goes out?  Mass kitchen migration.

  1. Hire a food truck to park outside the office (on the company’s dime) for lunch
    Food trucks are all the rage these days. They offer new twists on old classics, have unique menus and can provide more good fodder for social media posts.
  1. Ice Cream Sundae Bar
    Delicious ice cream. Creative toppings. Need I say more?
  1. Smoothie Bar
    Same idea as the Sundae Bar, but a healthier option (and could be more appropriate if you’ve been making wellness a priority at your company this year)
  1. Team Picnic
    The outdoors and food are two pretty awesome things, so when you pair them together it’s a pretty excellent outcome. Have a nice patio? Get your team outside and into the fresh air for a bit.
    **This is more applicable for those working in warm environments. If you’re located in an area where average temperatures in March are below zero this could be perceived as a perverse form of punishment.
  1. Top Chef Competition
    I would be willing to bet that every office has a few aspiring chefs in their midst. Put out feelers in the time leading up to your Employee Appreciation celebrations and see if anyone wants to put their culinary prowess on display for an entertaining, and tasty, competition.

Personal Development

  1. Ted Talks
    Screen Ted Talks throughout the celebrations – bonus points for committing to the ‘theatre vibe’ with comfy seats and treats (popcorn machine anyone?). You can put out feelers leading up to the event and ask people to submit topics or speakers of interest.
  1. Leader Q&A
    Transparency is king. It provides people with a sense of inclusion and breaks down some of the typical hierarchical barriers. Create a comfortable environment where Leaders answer employee’s questions and hear their ideas. It’s a good idea to include a moderator and a question submission box, in case employees wish to ask sensitive questions anonymously.
  1. Celebrate Personal Accomplishments
    People in your organization are capable of, and may have already done, amazing things. Take some time to celebrate your team member’s accomplishments outside of work – this is also a great way to get to know them as individuals, beyond the office.

These are just some ideas to get the ball rolling, the key to a successful Employee Appreciation Celebration is incorporating aspects that matter to your employees.

Start celebrating Employee Appreciation Week by giving thanks and appreciating your employees today. Recognize their great work with a personalized recognition card. Get started here. 

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About Sarah Clayton

Sarah ClaytonSarah Clayton is the Communications and Campaigns Specialist at Achievers, where she focuses on generating content to drive desired recognition behaviors and engagement on the platform.

 

 

 

Top employee desires

What Rewards Do Employees Want Most?

The balance of power between employee and employer has shifted in recent years, especially in tech-related fields. As a human resources professional or manager, you’re probably all-too familiar with the job-hopping ways of highly skilled employees who feel they can pick and choose the job they want. And that’s reflected in the fact that more than half of all business owners feel that competition for talent is stronger than it’s ever been. But there are a number of ways to attract and keep top talent, and to keep them happy and engaged while they’re with you. Offering an employee recognition and rewards program has proven to be one of the most effective ways to retain highly skilled workers and to build your company’s financial strength at the same time. Here’s a look at why a rewards and recognition system is important, and how to choose the kinds of rewards that your workers really want.

Employee happiness is essential

Even if your business is centered on sophisticated equipment or software, human beings are still the essential engine that makes everything run – and a sense of emotional well-being is the primary fuel that keeps those human beings working at their peak performance level. Research shows that workers who are recognized and rewarded for their efforts feel happier in general, have better relationships with co-workers and are more open to constructive feedback. Financially, you’ll see measurable returns as well: According to an Aberdeen Group study, companies with some type of formal employee engagement program see a 25-percent increase in year-over-year revenue, along with nearly triple the sales team success. And the difference in annual customer service cost was equally eye-popping: companies with formal methods for employee appreciation saw a 12.7-percent savings in customer service expenditures, whereas companies that don’t have any employee recognition system in place spent 1.2 percent more for their customer service.

Why employee incentives have become more important

It’s always been true that recognizing and rewarding employees for their contributions results in better performance and less employee churn, but now that millennials are flooding the workplace thee levers have become more important than ever. Younger workers are often the ones with the most desirable skill-set, but in return for their services they expect employers to be appreciative of their efforts. Investopedia lays out the basic facts for managers: One-third of every U.S. worker belongs to this generation, along with half of all new immigrants who come here. The article goes on to advise, “This drastic shift in the workforce requires companies to change how they manage and reward talent. The policies and incentives that worked for past generations are no longer effective, and companies that fail to adapt may find themselves facing a shortage of talented and motivated workers.”

What kind of rewards should you offer?

Once you’ve made the decision to establish a formal system for recognizing and rewarding your workers, the next step is to figure out what kind of rewards will most effectively motivate and delight your employees. Here’s a quick review of the benefits and perks that are recommended by employee recognition best practices:

Social recognition

Especially for the growing population of millennial employees, a social recognition platform should be your first focus. This popular type of HR technology is perfectly suited for workers who have come of age in the era of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and so on. They’re accustomed to immediate feedback, “likes,” status updates and more, and if they’re praised, they want to be able to share the event with friends. You’ll build loyalty among this group of workers with shareable social acknowledgements because these rewards are magnified when posted on personal and professional networks.

Career coaching and professional development

Your employees work for many reasons besides merely earning a paycheck, and the best way to nurture their non-monetary motivations is to offer them a chance to advance in their careers. By providing the opportunity to learn new skills and embrace new challenges, you are fueling each worker’s passion for their job and helping them feel more engaged in your organization’s overall business success.

Additional flexibility

Everyone who works for you is also balancing a wide array of outside commitments and obligations. A study of employee wants found that 35 percent of workers say they would benefit from more flexible work schedules, and 46 percent say that having more control over their time is one of the most important factors when they’re looking for a new job. Rewarding your top performers with greater control over when and where they work is a cost-effective method of increasing employee happiness and building loyalty.

Gift cards and trendy items

Although pay and compensation must be competitive in order to ensure a sense of well-being among your workforce, employees today often expect more than just their baseline pay to feel truly appreciated. That’s why being able to offer a wide array of rewards in the form of gift cards, travel and leisure, and other hot items like tablet computers or VR goggles is complimentary to any fully-fledged social recognition program. The unique benefit of offering gift cards and a full selection of items from a catalog is that each employee can choose his or her own uniquely meaningful reward, and which will make them feel more satisfied than if they just received an insignia coffee mug, plaque, or some standardized gift that you purchased for them.

Your company’s financial strength depends on making sure that your employees stay engaged. Understanding some basics in human motivation can help you to be creative in finding ways to recognize your workers. New developments in HR tech also offer holistic systems for boosting worker happiness, increasing engagement and improving overall performance.

We all want to make our employees happy, so why not start by giving them what they want: an unbeatable rewards and recognition program in place. Learn how to kick off the right rewards and recognition program for your business by downloading The Ultimate Guide to Recognition.

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Positive Work Culture

5 Company Initiatives That Improve Office Culture

By: Jessica Thiefels
Small Business Freelancer, Content Marketing and Strategy Consultant

In today’s competitive market for talent, office culture is everything. With employees spending most of their time (some upwards of 50 hours a week) in the office, it’s should come as no surprise that HR leaders consider developing and nurturing corporate culture and employee engagement to be their number one challenge.

Luckily, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to improve company culture. Initiatives that promote health, work-life balance, kindness and gratitude already exist and can go a long way in bolstering a positive office culture while also increasing engagement.

If you’re unsure where to start, here are a few initiatives to consider:

Employee Health

Companies have been holding organization-wide health challenges and the like for some time now, but the kinds of health initiatives employees desire are different than they once were, where end results were all that was emphasized. People don’t want to step on a giant scale and see how much weight they lost (or didn’t lose!). Instead, they want measurable processes that lead to overall well-being; to track progress with technology, get stronger, healthier, and feel great. With that in mind, here are a few modern health initiatives to try:

Supply organic lunches: According to a 3-month Communispace study. millennials care deeply about what they eat: “More than a quarter say organic, natural and non-toxic products are part of maintaining their health and may see them as alternatives to traditional medicine, signaling an opportunity for brands well beyond the traditional health care sectors,” If your organization can’t pay for lunch every day, choose a couple days to provide an organic lunch for employees or consider partnering with a catering company or bringing in a chef.

Strength challenge: You are probably familiar with popular health hashtags such as: #Healthyisthenewskinny and #progressnotperfection. With the idea of encouraging progress towards health goals in mind, why not hold a fitness challenge and then give employees a period of time to prepare for a re-test, challenging them to improve their performance and beat their old numbers. The friendly competition will encourage camaraderie and morale among employees while emphasizing greater personal health through competition.

Sleep goals: According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the more sleep an employee gets, the less likely they are to call in sick: “Results show that the risk of an extended absence from work due to sickness rose sharply among those who reported sleeping less than 6 hours or more than 9 hours per night,”

With fitness trackers and other wearables, people can now track how long and how well they’re sleeping every night. Set a sleep goal for employees and have them track their sleep over a period of time to earn rewards like gift cards, merchandise or PTO. Employees will feel better and they’ll love telling people they have “sleep goals” for work.

A Kindness Initiative

We could all benefit from more kindness in the world these days; not only at work but throughout our daily lives. In a recent poll, 76 percent of respondents said the world is a less kind place than it was 10 to 20 years ago. One way to bring more kindness, respect, and empathy into the workplace is with a kindness initiative.

It should include the following components:

Create a set of kindness “pillars” that everyone follows. Examples include: When giving constructive criticism or performance feedback, always give “compliment sandwiches” (compliment, criticism, compliment), assign work based on people’s strengths to set everyone up for success, exhibit small acts of kindness like holding the door open for coworkers, etc.

Institute regular recognition of employees. For this to stick, it has to work top down. Managers and team leaders can plan a monthly meeting where one or a group of employee(s) is called out for their excellent work. To ensure a tangible element for this type of recognition, employers can also create a wall of fame to post photos of these high performing employees. For larger organizations, an employee recognition platform is a great way to create and embed a culture of recognition.

Encourage employees to “give props” to their peers. If you use a tool like Slack to communicate within your office, this is easy to facilitate. Set up a channel where employees can recognize one another with a timely “thanks” or “nice job” regarding recent business successes. Using Slack, colleagues can not only tag the recipient of the “props”, but the entire channel, so everyone sees what that person did. Some recognition software providers, like Achievers, even allow the integration of popular tools like Slack within their recognition platform to further encourage “recognition in the flow of work”.

Employees will love getting the extra recognition, and more kindness may help reduce drama and sticky office politics.

A Volunteer Initiative

Giving back is not only good for the soul of your organization, it’s also good for attracting and retaining millennials: But sadly, only 57 percent of millennials believe that business leaders are committed to improving society. A volunteer initiative is relatively easy to set up and gives you a chance to boost your employer brand while also increasing loyalty and engagement among millennials.

Here are a few suggestions for setting up a volunteer initiative:

  • Hold a bi-annual volunteer event, where employees volunteer their time rather than go into the office for the day. Don’t do it on a Saturday—not only will you likely cripple turnout, but employees will likely not appreciate having an initiative such as this scheduled during their free time.
  • Reward employees who volunteer on their own time with “free” half-days.
  • Give every employee one workday a year, month or quarter to take part in a volunteer activity of their choosing.

In addition to the inherent value of the good deed itself, participating employees will feel good about themselves and gain more respect for your business, making volunteer initiatives especially valuable.

A Work/Life Balance Initiative

In the aforementioned Communispace study, 49 percent of millennials reported work-life balance as an important part of their health and wellness, followed by relationships with friends and family (47 percent). Employees of all generations care greatly about achieving a proper Work/Life balance, making it an important part of any culture campaign.

Luckily, there are many ways you can help employees foster desired work-life balance:

  • Half-day Fridays: Offer this once a month, or during a specific quarter. Many companies do this in the summer, when people tend to go on more weekend escapes.
  • Flexible work hours: Instead of limiting office attendance to the standard 9-to-5, allow employees to work when and how they can personally be most productive, whether that means coming in and leaving early, or working through the night. As long as they are performing up to expectations and making themselves available for meetings and other requests from colleagues, allow them the flexibility to manage their own schedules.
  • Work from home: If possible, allow employees to occasionally work from home, be it once a week or month.
  • Unlimited time off: This is something many startups and even larger companies are starting to offer. Employees can take as much, or as little time off as their job permits, without worrying about PTO caps or tracking their remaining vacation days. Fostering trust among your employees does wonders for engagement and it also benefits employers as it has been suggested that employees may actually take less time off when they have unlimited PTO.

A Shadow Initiative

This initiative allows employees to shadow their peers for a period of time. Business departments often get siloed and have little understanding as to what each other is doing. Shadow initiatives give everyone a chance to understand the roles of their collegues and see how their two positions can work together to achieve even better results.

To keep it organized, allow one department to shadow each month. For example, in March, members of the marketing team will shadow whomever they want. Set your time period (4 hours, an afternoon), and ask each shadow pairing to come up with one way they can work together in the next month.

Employees will love spending time doing something new and the business will flourish as connections are made that take projects and ideas to the next level.

To learn more, download the white paper All For One and One For All: Uniting a Global Workforce With Company Culture.

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About Jessica Thiefels
Jessica Thiefels
Jessica Thiefels has been writing and editing for more than 10 years and spent the last five years in marketing. She recently stepped down from a senior marketing position to focus on growing her own startup and consulting for small businesses. She’s been featured on Forbes and has written for sites such as Lifehack, Inman, Manta, StartupNation and more. When she’s not working, she’s enjoying sunny San Diego with her husband and friends or traveling somewhere new. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.

 

Learning and Development Programs

How to Leverage Learning and Development to Improve Employee Engagement

By: Kellie Wong
Social Media and Blog Manager, Achievers

Are your employees reaching their full potential at work? According to a Middlesex University study cited in a recent Sh!ft infographic, of almost 4,300 workers polled, a whopping 74% felt that they weren’t achieving their full potential at work. So how does a business engage its employees to make them feel empowered and more productive? One answer is by providing the right learning and development opportunities.

But how do you determine which learning and development opportunities are right for your employees? Getting the answer wrong could be costly. According to Sh!ft, the total loss to a business from ineffective training can add up to $13.5 million per year per 1,000 employees. The key is to stop wasting money on ineffective training programs and start approaching learning and development initiatives with a new, creative outlook designed to boost employee engagement.

Training Magazine recently featured an article providing a behind-the-scenes look at leading tech companies that are stepping up their learning and development opportunities to successfully engage employees. Following, we have pulled a few highlights from the article to help you gain some inspiration for your business:

Adobe’s focus on quality content

Adobe focuses on learning and development opportunities through its Learning@Adobe program. With the use of their own product, Adobe Connect, and other resources, they are able to offer a wide portfolio of e-learning tools. For Adobe, it’s all about the quality of content, and we can understand why:

“Adobe gets the content right—its 60-minute virtual Adobe Connect labs consistently receive net promoter scores above 90 percent.” – Training Magazine

Facebook’s learning and development package

Mike Welsh, Learning and Development Partner and People Engineer at Facebook, shared, “Facebook’s key learning and development objectives are to promote respect and foster a culture of continual learning.” So how does Facebook accomplish this? Through a number of innovative programs. First, the company focuses on personalizing the experience for employees with various specified tracks and on-demand classes. Next, Facebook provides an Engage Coaching Program that enables new managers to have one-on-one time with an executive as a mentor. Together, they work on their people management skills. Finally, Facebook’s FLiP (Facebook Leadership in Practice) program is built for peers and executive team members to provide rising leaders honest feedback.

Salesforce centers its attention on employee success

Salesforce focuses on employee success to drive customer success. In order to do this, Salesforce developed Trailhead, an interactive customer learning platform for in-house employee training. Trailhead also opens up one-on-one learning opportunities for managers and employees to discuss and track the progress of personal goals.

But Adobe, Facebook, and Salesforce are just three of many tech leaders that are effectively using and learning and development to drive employee engagement. Don’t lose sight of what’s important to your employees. According to Oxford Economics, 62% of executives say millennials will consider leaving their jobs due to lack of learning and development. Learn how to create an unbeatable learning and development program to retain your employees and keep them motivated.

What other ways can your business kick off an impactful learning and development program? Training Magazine shares five affordable ways for companies of any size to run a successful learning and development initiative:

  1. In-house mentorship and coaching
  2. Online education courses
  3. Gather employee feedback and test new ideas
  4. Train new managers to become inspirational leaders
  5. Value your employees like you value your customers

It’s been reported that three-fourths of employees that work for companies with financial performance that is significantly above average are moderately or highly engaged. Start engaging your employees with the right learning and development opportunities. By connecting employees to new learning and development resources, they can reach their full potential at work, feel driven to produce stronger results, and trust that their company cares about its employees’ success.

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About Kellie Wong
Kellie WongKellie Wong is the Social Media and Blog Manager for Achievers. She manages Achievers’ social media presence and
The Engage Blog, including the editorial calendars for both. In addition to writing blog content for The Engage Blog, she also manages and maintains relationships with 20+ guest blog contributors and edits every piece of content that gets published. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.

 

Company Perks

5 Insanely Great Company Perks That Will Draw Top Talent

Life would be simple if hiring the best people were only a matter of offering competitive pay. Incentive Magazine revealed employee benefits are more valuable than ever – according to MetLife’s 10th annual study of employee benefits trends, there is a strong relationship between satisfaction with benefits and overall job satisfaction. In today’s tight talent market, employers have to claim a unique position for their brand if they want to snag the top-tier candidates. Here are five compelling perks your business can use to make all your job openings magnetic.

1. Unlimited vacation

As achievement is increasingly measured by output rather than hours, work schedules are becoming less relevant. Remote working means a revolutionary new approach to accountability; employees may prefer working in the middle of the night or from a seaside cafe on another continent. Workers in the era of unlimited vacation are in some ways more connected to their jobs than ever before while also being free as birds.

2. Endless food

The days of packing lunches from home are ancient history in today’s most progressive organizations. Whether it’s the catered meals and stocked kitchens of SquareSpace, the fun lunches of Warby Parker, or the personalized birthday boxes offered by Stack Exchange, today’s work culture is all about great food. Even smaller companies keep their employees’ energy up by providing healthy high-protein snacks by the coffee maker.

3. On-site health support

Your company’s well-being relies on healthy employees, so why not invest in their health if you have the chance? This philosophy may take the form of on-site medical clinics, fitness centers, or bowling alleys – or it may include offering free gym memberships. Regardless of how fancy the facilities are the goal remains the same. Get employees up and moving around if you want to keep them engaged and energized for the long-term.

4. Unbeatable employee referral programs

Plenty of organizations offer plain vanilla employee referral programs, but if you want to be noticed for your policies, the trick is to pay attention to best practices. Serve up those referral bonuses promptly and be willing to reward outside your own organization. Nudge your staff several times a year to be on the lookout for new team members and change up the bonuses regularly. There’s no better way to build stability in your organization than by maintaining an effective employee referral program.

5. Rewards and recognition

Finally, employee recognition programs both attract employees and keep them engaged, as Ericsson’s E-Star program demonstrates. This company’s monetary and social recognitions program has a broad approach, with numerous benefits and perks, including a referral program, digital gift cards, mobile app capabilities and much more. These recognition all-stars do it all with style, building employee commitment by providing a positive work environment.

Download our Achievers Culture eBook today and learn more about how these perks can fit into your company’s strategy for building and boosting employee engagement.

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Employee Incentive Programs

Best employee incentive programs for health & fitness

Many companies consider wellness programs to be a nice extra — an optional perk to keep employees engaged. The evidence, however, demonstrates that workplace wellness programs have far-reaching economic benefits for the companies that put them in place. Harvard Business Review notes that Johnson & Johnson saved $250 million on employee health care costs as a result of their long-running emphasis on worker wellness. This works out to a return of $2.71 for every dollar they invested. Here’s a quick look at how you can help your employees improve their level of wellness.

Incentives are essential

The Wall Street Journal reports “Nearly 90 percent of employers offer wellness incentives or financial rewards or prizes to employees who work toward getting healthier.” This percentage represents a substantial increase from earlier years, as organizations have come to recognize two things: first, they will benefit financially from a healthier workforce, and second, employees aren’t good at following through with new health habits in the absence of incentives. The fact that people have trouble sticking with health resolutions is well-known, so organizations and workers alike can benefit from well-organized programs.

Diverse approaches to employee incentive programs

Employee incentive programs can be structured around several models, and you may want to draw from each one in order to suit the diversity of personal styles among your staff:

  • Personalized interventions: These reward individual employees for taking specified personal health steps, such as completing a health risk assessment, reaching a target weight, or getting a cancer screening. Individual incentives don’t invite team effort or competition, but people who prefer to make such efforts privately will appreciate receiving an individual bonus.
  • Employee competitions: Some people are motivated by the recognition they will achieve by coming out on top of a friendly competition. The contest model can be applied to such actions as quitting smoking, attending a certain number of exercise classes, or walking the greatest number of steps in a given period. Incentives for winning such competitions can be gift cards, vacation days, and/or public presentation of prizes.
  • Collaboration: The third model for creating employee incentive programs is a collaborative one. Lunchtime walking groups or gym clubs use a supportive camaraderie to encourage employees to remain disciplined. Incentives here can also be cash, gift cards, or peer-to-peer recognition.

Letting your employees know you care about their health and wellbeing will build a sense of loyalty in your organization and contribute to a stable, productive economic future as well.

Tuition Reimbursement Policy

Do companies really benefit from giving tuition reimbursement?

Have you considered paying some of your workers’ tuition to continue their education? In an era where employee engagement is a top priority for businesses, tuition assistance is a much-sought-after company benefit. But it also has the potential to be a burden on your bottom line, so you must determine whether it ultimately provides a good return on your investment. The following points will help when developing a tuition reimbursement policy for your company.

Business investment or just another perk?

The opportunity to subsidize your employees to further their education requires careful decision-making. If your only reason for this offer is simply to increase employee engagement, you may want to consider other popular options such as flex-time or remote work opportunities. These options tend to improve employees’ work-life balance while being less expensive to implement.

On the other hand, if you do want to support your employees’ careers by helping them acquire specific skills, your organization has the chance to benefit from their improved knowledge and abilities. Furthermore, you will also build a strong employer brand and benefit from attracting top talent in a competitive marketplace. Remember that you may be able to offer up to $5,250 tuition assistance per year per employee and deduct it as a business expense on your taxes. Be sure to read the fine print on the IRS instructions regarding this tax break before you proceed.

ROI may be diffuse

Training Magazine highlights the 125 companies each year that excel in employee training. This eminent list includes some of the nation’s largest and most prestigious companies, and 99 percent of them offer tuition reimbursement. These businesses have determined that employee education is a worthwhile investment, however the true return might come in the form of lower employee turnover, greater productivity, better job candidates, and greater worker loyalty.

Roll out tuition benefits thoughtfully

If you do decide to offer a tuition program, you may wish to limit it to workers who have been with your company for a specific length of time. You can also specify the GPA that the employee has to maintain, and you can limit the areas of study to those that will directly pertain to the skills your company needs. Further, you may want to spend time talking with a worker who expresses interest in enrolling in school to learn how he or she will balance the commitments of job, class time, and homework.

By offering a well-considered tuition reimbursement policy, you will be partnering with your employees to build their success. At the same time, your company can benefit from their improved expertise and develop strong employee loyalty.

 

Company Perks

Which company perks attract the best talent?

Gone are the days of poor working conditions, grueling hours, and no benefits. In recent years, companies have seen the importance of offering quality perks for their employees. This realization has spawned a steadily building competition among companies as they try to out-perk other employers. But with the myriad of options available, from unlimited vacation time, to office dogs, to free lunch, how can you tell if you’re creating a real impact or just spinning your wheels?

While company perks are not the primary reason candidates join companies, some benefits weigh heavier in a candidate’s decision process than others. Perks, benefits, and employee incentives also play a role in improving employee retention rates and satisfaction. Unsurprisingly, MetLife’s U.S. Employee Benefit Survey found that “professionals satisfied with their benefits are more than twice as likely to also be satisfied with their work.” For those considering a new position in today’s market, the following company perks are the most compelling:

Paid time off

Paid time off gives your employees a better sense of financial security should an emergency or illness arise. If employees are offered unlimited paid time off, this introduces an element of trust, as management allows employees a high level of control over their workload. When employees feel respected, they often return that respect by managing their work responsibly.

Shared profits

Nothing gives your employees a meaningful sense of ownership like profit-sharing. Regardless of distribution methods, shared profits can transform your employees’ perception of themselves from workhorses or cogs to legitimate members of a team working toward a shared cause.

Frequent breaks

Some companies still cringe at the idea of giving their employees anything more than a quick lunch break during their shift. However, studies have repeatedly shown that working in short bursts can propel productivity, boost employees’ moods, and recharge mental capacities. Now that we’ve learned the traditional 9-5 workday with one break isn’t the most efficient way to work, it’s easier to experiment with different schedules to keep employees fresh and vitalize work flow.

Wellness programs

It goes without saying that a staff of unhealthy employees won’t do much for your productivity — nor will it entice new candidates to hop on board. While you may not have the budget for a luxurious on-site gym, there are plenty of ways to routinely incorporate wellness into your company culture. Some companies have begun offering nutritional counseling and healthy lunch days, or providing more relaxing break rooms so employees can unwind.

As you’re crafting new perks and benefits policies, you should listen carefully to the perks that your job candidates ask about most during interviews. What do they have at their current companies that they really enjoy? What employee incentives have candidates in your area started to expect from employers? Don’t make the mistake of assuming that the most obvious perk is the one most valued by your people.

Employee Bonus Plan

Annual bonuses: How much do they actually incentivize employees?

by Andrea Vearncombe, Total Rewards Manager, Achievers

Do you give your employees big annual bonuses as a reward for their work? Or perhaps you just give them out of tradition? If so, you have plenty of company: It’s common to rely on annual bonus plans to build employee motivation and pad salaries. However, a lot of bonus plans aren’t set up in a way that truly motivates good work. There’s a psychology behind rewards and employee incentives that you need to understand before you can create an effective bonus structure.

Do you give them, or do employees earn them?

If bonuses are going to serve as an incentive, you need to provide employees with clear metrics and objectives so that they understand exactly what they need to accomplish to earn the bonus. If you have a structure where everyone gets a bonus no matter what, that will quickly demotivate some employees, because they expect to receive a check regardless of their performance.

In addition to being clear, the bonus objectives need to strike a balance so that they’re not too far-fetched, or too easy. The goals should be attainable.

Too little, too late

Employees come to work every day of the year, and you need them to feel motivated and engaged on each one of those days. Most bonuses, however, only come 1-4 times per year. Even if employees feel a sense of satisfaction when they finally get their check (and research shows that sometimes they don’t), it won’t provide motivation for an employee who faces a challenging work situation weeks or months before bonuses are due. Furthermore, annual bonuses can actually spawn resentment or entitlement, creating interpersonal conflicts among employees or alienation from the company during a financially lean year.

Reward more with less

While financial incentives can be an effective way to motivate and reward employees, employers shouldn’t rely on periodic payout as their only method of engagement. Managers and employees should recognize each other and celebrate accomplishments both large and small all throughout the year. Real-time recognition that’s tied directly to an employee’s contribution is often more effective than the annual bonus—and it costs a lot less.

And if you’re running a recognition program manually with spreadsheets and closets full of rewards, you should know that there is a better way. Check out this whitepaper to learn how to make things easier.

 

Andrea Vearncombe  Andrea Vearncombe is responsible for leading the global total rewards and culture strategy for Achievers in North America and EMEA.