Everyone likes an incentive or a perk. Being part of a select group and receiving the small benefits attached to the work environment make us light up. Maybe that’s why we share our phone numbers or scan a membership card with nearly every transaction we make these days.
Benefits and incentives have become a significant part of corporate strategy. Some companies offer free lunches; a few pamper employees with office massages; others liven up the workday with Ping-Pong tables or volleyball courts. Who doesn’t love the idea of these workplace bonuses? They affirm management’s intent on being more than crack-the-whip bosses, and they can differentiate your organization from the rest of the competition.
I love a good coffee bar as much as the next person, but I also know those top talents will see right through the latte foam if they don’t find underneath an employee-centric culture that satisfies what they crave. Specific incentives should be standard in every company. Here are five that all organizations should offer to show they value their people.
1. Impactful Leaders
Not surprisingly, skilled, empathic leaders top the list because everything rises and falls on leadership. I’ve been a part of companies and have spent years leading them and coaching other executives about the benefits of engaged and effective leaders, but many still miss the mark and just don’t get it.
Impactful leaders demonstrate the following habits:
· They know their people on an individual basis.
· They recognize and reward effective team members.
· They empower team members to do their jobs.
· They position people on their teams to succeed.
· They are encouraging.
· They trust their teams
· They have an abundance mindset that expresses itself as generosity.
Talented people won’t stick around if their leaders are just average. There is a saying that is so true, “People leave managers, not companies.” If you are serious about building a high performing organization, you must begin with the leadership—and that begins with you.
2. Compelling Work
The second must-have incentive is the opportunity to do the work that matters. While saving the world isn’t the mission of every organization, each company should still have a vision! The companies “Why” we exist that goes beyond making money or completing tasks will give your team the desire to want to be a part of the organization.
Once you share the big picture, the vision, direction, and intent of your company, you’ve got to detail how every job contributes to it. How each position from the copy room clerk to the Chairman of the Board has an impact on every project, every client and the success of the overall company. So, if you can’t answer why or how that position matters to the organization, then you need to go back to your organizational chart and job descriptions. I remember a few years ago the federal government made a big deal about cutting non-essential personnel during a budget crunch. I thought to myself, if they’re nonessential, then why do they have jobs in the first place? Every person should know that he or she is a vital part of a greater whole of the organization.
Furthermore, you should work on matching the right people with the right jobs. As Jim Collins says in his book “Good to Great” “Get the right people on the bus and in the right seats….” I call this the “Target of Opportunity,” where a person’s talent and passion meet the organization’s need. When people excel at what they do, they’ll find the work more meaningful. This process starts with onboarding employees whose personal purpose aligns with the organizational purpose. If you have people on the team who don’t share your values, or don’t know the company’s values or the “Why” of your company you will always run into trouble—unhappy employees (and the management challenges that go along with them), high turnover and less-than-stellar work performance from those whose hearts aren’t in the game. It’s incumbent on you, the leader of the organization to communicate the vision, purpose, and direction of your company. When you think you have communicated it enough and you’re nauseated from hearing yourself saying it over and over again, keep sharing it with your staff. If you as the leader don’t communicate the vision of your company, no one else will.
3. Growth Oriented Environment
Of all the incentive an organization can offer, this is the one I tend to be the most passionate about. I have said to all my staff who come to work for my companies that they are entering a growth environment and that I expect them to develop and expand their skills over time. Meeting with your staff individually or as a group with the specific purpose of nurturing growth will go a long way, and the returns are ten-fold.
Leaders have a responsibility in this process of growing and developing your staff. We can’t do it for them, but we can offer avenues for growth; if we demand that people grow but don’t actively support their efforts to do so, we’ll frustrate everyone, and the team will lose trust in the company leadership. Following are key areas and ways for you to provide the potential for growth:
Advancement within the company with a defined path for each staff. This will allow the team member to know the how to move forward within the organization and what is expected of them. Unclear expectations are often the downfall of employee retention.
Continuing education, whether formal or job-specific, where the company helps the staff member pay for a portion or all of the tuition cost.
Encouragement to stretch beyond expectations. Assisting them in developing a growth plan or providing a coach to the staff to support them in this area.
New challenges that spur growth.
Growth doesn’t just happen you have to be intentional about it at all levels of the organization. Providing opportunities for your staff to be stretched will be invaluable. As my mentor, John Maxwell has said “A rubber-band is not useful until it is stretched. Being stretched allow us to leave our comfort zones.
Stretching one’s self is not a talent you or your team was born with. It is a conscious decision inside each of us to get out of your comfort zone and grow. It’s deciding that reaching our potential is more important than being comfortable.
Make a choice today to stretch yourself like you never have before.
This incentive will be absorbed companywide. Not only will your employees appreciate the investment in them, but also the organization will benefit from happier, growth-oriented people. It’s a win-win.
4. Personal Pursuit Opportunities
All companies should offer employees a chance to chase their dreams, to aspire to be a better version of themselves than they are today. That may seem improbable, but it’s practical and requires an abundance mindset on the part of leadership and knowing your people.
You might consider allowing sabbaticals, so people can take extended time off to pursue personal and professional goals. You can network for them, introducing them to leaders who can advance them in their industries or assist them in their passion projects. Provide opportunities that inspire employees to dream bigger and reach further within the organization’s overall vision, such as tapping an aspiring writer to helm the company blog or asking a photography buff to shoot pictures to document a project.
There’s nothing wrong with a Ping-Pong table or an in-house massage therapist, but when it comes to the incentives your people really need, nothing beats the five listed here. When you take care of your people, they will deliver a significant return on your investment. As my mentor often say, “If you add value to your people, they’ll add value to you.”
5. Market-Based Compensation
This is the most obvious way that organizations take care of their people. Any organization that skimps on salaries will struggle to attract and retain top talent. At too many organizations, the highest levels hoard the wealth. Sure, executives should be well-compensated, but no company is made up entirely of chiefs! You need to share the wealth.
As a leader, you should sacrifice some of your shares for your people who helped get you there, which will go a long way toward instilling good faith, loyalty and longevity, and trust among your team.
Salary isn’t the only type of compensation. However, provide the best benefits you can afford: health insurance plans with generous coverage; retirement funds that will sustain your employees; scholarship programs that advance your team members or their kids; and so forth. When possible, offer flexible schedules or work-from-home opportunities. It’s smart to assess what your people need and provide them with attractive options for doing their best work.
I hope that this short article might spur on ideas and thoughts on how you can develop a greater culture of growth for your organization. At Harvest Business & Leadership Develop we want to help you harvest your brilliance. Please contact us at (916) 878-9819 to schedule an appointment with one of our business advisors.