Recognising the efforts of your workforce can go a long way towards preventing demotivation and stress-related illnesses
In a previous column I wrote about the importance of staff retention and the damaging effects of a high staff turnover. But a further issue for businesses is staff attendance: how many working days does your organisation lose through staff illness? More importantly, how much of this is genuine or avoidable?
The most recent Health and Safety Executive data revealed that 27.3 million working days were lost as a result of work-related illness and workplace injury in 2014/15, at a cost of around £14bn.
I believe the health and safety of the workforce is not just about safeguarding employees physically. Equally, it must take account of psychological health too. Stress-related absence or absence owing to lethargy, demotivation and alienation, for example, are issues for every employer to consider, tackle and prevent.
Reward and recognise
So how do organisations approach the issue of psychological health and what can we do to improve it? Do employees feel happy and appreciated or stressed and insignificant? And what strategies are in place to measure such emotions and impact them?
I believe employers are starting to recognise the importance of psychological health. As a result, they are taking a more holistic approach towards supporting employees.
Part of this wellbeing provision should include an effective employee recognition programme. It is my belief that reward and recognition is key to the attitudes and happiness of staff. Indeed, research shows a recognised employee is far more likely to be an engaged employee.
But what does reward and recognition look like? Is it all trophies and chocolates? Well, we have an extensive programme in place, which has evolved over time owing to the input and ideas of staff. Trophies and chocolates are only the tip of the iceberg.
There is so much more that could be done.
For a start, reward and recognition needs to be part of the culture of the business: values should reflect the importance of acknowledging contribution and achievement. It should be part of the ethos to congratulate effort and share successes, and this should be a way of working on a daily basis.
Having this ethos embedded in the business is more important than giving out prizes and tangible rewards. If it is the norm to congratulate colleagues, to like the idea of “winning together” and to celebrate when someone has gone that extra mile, then your strategy is firmly embedded.
Naturally, staff also enjoy the tangible rewards. But what should you reward and recognise? There should be a range of possibilities, including service and loyalty, great customer service and positive feedback, performance and achievement, and wider contribution.
Forums for reward and recognition can range from a mass email exchange, intranets and company bulletins, meetings and external forums such as social media or company magazines. Peer-to-peer recognition schemes (ours is called the “Big Shout Out”) provide a powerful tool for team building and cohesion, and are an excellent way of empowering staff.
Breakfast and ice cream
There has always been a close link between man and his love of food. Team breakfasts or ice creams for all on a hot, sunny day are great ways of showing you care and appreciate the efforts of all. It is amazing how this can create a real buzz in the office.
With staff retention being a key issue in this current climate, it seems logical to acknowledge and reward long service and loyalty where applicable. But rather than going for gifts and trophies, we have looked at this in a slightly different way.
For example, we have named various meeting rooms after long-standing staff members and the tables at our recent winners’ dinner were named after our longest serving employees.
These individuals were also the hosts of their respective table: a great honour all round. Opportunities to represent the organisation, be it at social events or on an ambassadorial basis, also serve as a reward and recognition strategy, as well as a professional development one.
Clare Jupp is director of people development at Brightstar