Today’s financial outlook seems grim. Companies that once were the pinnacle of the market are slowly crumbling or closing altogether. In these economic times, how can a company remain competitive and keep the best and brightest talent? During times of great wealth and prosperity, it was not uncommon to find companies lavishing expensive gifts upon their employees for work well done or as a means of retaining their top talent. However, now with looming credit crisis, tightening cash flow, and the possibility of a recession, companies need to re-invent their model to rewarding their employees for quality work.
Non-monetary rewards are the vehicle that companies can use in these economic times to prove fiscal responsibility to the business community, and acknowledgement of the achievements and quality work ethic of its employees. What this paper intends to prove is that non-monetary rewards in the workplace represent an innovative opportunity to provide positive feedback to employees without an impact on the company’s bottom line. It results in a win-win condition for both the employee and the company. The employee benefits because they receive the morale enhancing respect, support, and recognition from their managers and/or the company.
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The company benefits two-fold because content employees turn out better quality work, which affects the product the company manufacturers and they begin to attract more workers that have a high quality work ethic. The corporate climate has changed over the years from competitive to cooperative. Gratton says “few of us are wholly cooperative or wholly competitive. ” (2007) The competitive environment fosters individualism over the team building philosophy of the cooperative environment. That doesn’t mean, however that a competitive environment is bad. Competition is used frequently to encourage increased productivity.
A sales company may use a competitive method to promote the sales of a particular product, with the outcome being recognition in the company for exceeding sales goals. In an article written by Susan Marks in June 2001, points out how a Milwaukee based company use miles to reward their employees. The miles awarded to each employee based on various criteria can be exchanged for gifts of monetary value. However, fundamentally, this is a non-monetary reward system. For example, an employee can earn 1,000 miles just for working for the company for one year and recruiting new customers for the company results in 1,000 miles per customer.
The employee can then cash in these “miles” for monetary rewards. However, the company still recognizes the achievement of the employee even before a choice is made on how to redeem the miles. Another key non-monetary reward is growth potential. Given the opportunity to grow in an organization is often a sticking point for employee retention. Williamson states “Employees understand they need to grow, learn and develop new skills in order to advance. The ability to be able to choose their assignments and rise to new challenges offered by new responsibilities” (2007) gives an employee that opportunity.
It demonstrates two things: for the employer it demonstrates that they have an employee that desires to grow beyond what their job description is; someone willing to take the challenge to grow in another area of the business. For the employee, it shows the support that have from their employer. Their employer believes that this employee can “rise to the occasion” and allows them the opportunity to demonstrate it. This ultimately improves the employer/employee relationship, and in doing so builds employee loyalty. Flex time has become a very important non-monetary reward.
Simply put, flex time allows an employee to work hours that our convenient to their situation. It offers numerous benefits, to the company, to the employee and to the employer. Flex time allows companies to “retain key, dedicated employees whose personal needs conflict with traditional work hours. If you can offer flex time, you’ll gain increased productivity and worker satisfaction, along with decreased absenteeism and turnover ” all great money-savers for your company! ” (Javitch, 2006) “This, to some, is considered the most important of the non-monetary rewards in the workplace”, states Williamson (2007).
Flex time allows an employee to balance their employment responsibilities with their life responsibilities, such as children, elderly parents, or even school. Flex time does present challenges, so having a clear plan in place will help mitigate issues before they arise. Javitch (2006) offers several tips to making the transition to flex time for employees very successful, which are: 1. Your goals for any employee working flextime need to be clear. 2. An employee’s exact role in the company needs to be clearly defined. 3.
You must determine the frequency and mode of communication you require before your employees begin working their flextime schedules. 4. Establish some regular working hours for your telecommuting employees. Another important non-monetary reward is recognition. It is probably the best non-monetary reward that an employee can receive. In today’s workplace according to Williamson, it is uncommon for employees to receive acknowledgment for what they do. When it’s executed properly, employee recognition not only benefits the recipient, it can also motivate other employees to strive towards receiving the same recognition.
A key principle is to design the recognition program around the employees. According to McKeown, recognition programs should “recognize achievements attainable during work hours” (p. 111, 2002) and it should “positively impact the retention of your top employees—but not at the cost of negatively impacting the retention of other employees. ” The recognition program would in effect raise the bar among the employees and more employees would want to receive the recognition, this improving the quality of work. The actual recognition program does not have to be complicated.
A simple thank you card, or a posting on a bulletin board, or even an acknowledgement in a company newsletter will suffice, however, more extensive recognition programs require careful planning, according to McKeown (2002). This author suggests that developing a steering committee or even reaching out to employees for feedback and suggestions. Allowing them to contribute in this manner aids in driving the recognition program to the rank and file employees, in stark contrast to implementing with no input whatsoever from the employees.
This segues into the next point: giving employees opportunity to contribute. A very important non-monetary reward on its own, because it demonstrates to the employee that management believes in and trusts them, thereby allowing them to “be involved in key decisions”. (Williamson, 2007) This also shows that although the final decision on an initiative belongs to management, a willingness to hear rank and file employee comments and concerns and possibly change course or implement their concerns into the process or initiative includes employees in key decisions.
How does one put this all together? This document has examined several different means of providing non-monetary rewards and outlined some benefits connected with each of them. While each reward can “stand on its own”, a corporate culture that combines all of these non-monetary rewards provides their employees with the best mix of opportunities to advance in the organization. Employees that experience growth, have employers that are sensitive to the demands of their personal life, and are recognized for their contributions in the workplace are often less likely to leave the ompany they work for. It is possible to keep top talent and reward them for the quality work they perform. Even in today’s tough economic times, an organization need not rely solely on monetary rewards to show appreciation, but by combining the points presented in this paper, they can weather the financial storm and maintain a solid base of happy employees that enjoy their jobs and feel valued by management. References Javitch, D. (2006, June 5).
The Benefits of Flextime. Retrieved March 5, 2009, from Entrepreneur: http://www. entrepreneur. com/humanresources/employeemanagementcolumnistdavidjavitch/article159440. html McKeown, J. L. (2002). Retaining Top Employees. McGraw-Hill Professional. Williamson, M. (2007, January). Non monetary rewards in the workplace. Retrieved February 12, 2009, from Catalogs. com: http://www. catalogs. com/info/b2b/non-monetary-rewards-in-the-workplace. html