Engaging employees with innovative rewards and gratitude

Canny employers have begun to find innovative ways to say ‘thank you’ – either through simple gestures or reward platforms that tap into the needs and wants of their staff from retail discount schemes to smart apps that notify about latest initiatives. Whatever the method – it’s clear that the time is ripe for smarter appreciation approaches.
HR Grapevine
HR Grapevine | Executive Grapevine International Ltd
Engaging employees with innovative rewards and gratitude

‘Thank you’ – that tiny phrase, looped onto the end of a ‘something’ – a sign of appreciation that is the bedrock of thoughtfulness and politeness. It takes precisely two seconds to utter those words that can brighten someone’s day while being remembered by them for far longer. Seemingly and, for many we would be prepared to pull a cart horse across the Sahara Desert as long as someone said ‘thank you’ for doing so. Yet, many businesses fail to appreciate their employees in meaningful ways.

There’s no employee, ever that didn’t want to work for an employer that expressed gratitude to them, however big the pay packet but for those that still need to be persuaded the research is clear, expressing a heartfelt thanks is good for your health.

Why it matters

The Harvard Business Review (HBR) reports that saying thank you improves wellbeing, reduces stress, and builds resilience. Feeling gratitude can have a positive impact on the culture you work in too. In organisations where there is high stress, HBR found that they are more likely to treat those around them poorly but yet this is an especially important time to not only feel grateful but to express it.

As for when you should express gratitude, HBR is clear that the message is, ‘now.’

Chris Britton is People Experience Director at Reward Gateway, a platform that improves employee engagement and helps eight million employees to connect and appreciate one another. Speaking to HR Grapevine, Britton says, “I guess where appreciation comes into this and where it differentiates is that it isn't one thing on its own. It's a combination of various different things where we're helping people.”

Britton adds that the important point is that the age-old attitude to showing gratitude of a ‘one-size fits all approach’ no longer holds store.

“Businesses would be wise to start looking at all those things combined to bring true appreciation to those people and actual human beings because they’re going to get much more out of them. And of course, if people decide, or if people see the businesses aren't doing that, they'll just go somewhere else. They're educated and there's so much more choice than perhaps there used to be, particularly in the younger generations.”

Nebel Crowhurst is Chief People Officer and Chief Appreciation Officer also at Reward Gateway, she says that the statistics speak for themselves, “Recognition can boost effectiveness and productivity by around 23%, but when you truly value individuals and appreciate people as individuals, the productivity increases goes up to 43% as a real significant difference in productivity.”

It's a thought that Sophie Wardell, People Director at Higgs LLP also agrees with, “Giving thanks can make you happier. The findings at HBR show this. There are even health benefits such as: improved mental health, better sleep, and stress relief. Plus, I can also confirm that receiving thanks is a mighty positive experience too, albeit the research I’m quoting is purely my own."

Wardell adds that when it comes to appreciation, it is vital to start at the top. “Leaders should actively express appreciation for their employees’ contribution and do this regularly. Engendering a culture of gratitude should be embedded into development frameworks and, of course, core values. At Higgs, one of our core values is “care.” This informs our approach to remuneration and the benefits we offer.” During the cost of living crisis Higgs LLP created a Hardship Fund for anyone experiencing financial difficulties and gave everyone a one-off payment regardless of their seniority.

“Yesterday I was given this card by a Higgs LLP colleague, and it made my day, well, my week actually.”

Rewards are part of appreciation

Crowhurst says a big part of gratitude is rewards and benefits that fit and a lot of this harks back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs with that base pyramid being all important before higher self-actualisation needs can be fulfilled.

She says, “Of course recognition and rewards tend to be the ones that come out highest in terms of levers that then contribute to an individual feeling appreciated because when you look at the principle of the hierarchy of needs, you know towards the bottom there are those psychological needs. And when we think about the things that we do within Reward Gateway, like our discounting programme to help financially to ensure people have got the money they need to put food on the table and pay their bills, for example.”

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