Employee engagement isn’t just a tool to curb turnover. It can pay dividends. According to most recent Aon 2018 Global Employee Engagement Trends report, a five point increase in employee engagement is linked to a 3% increase in revenue. The most popular way to get the job done is with rewards or incentive programs. But how does it work?
We asked Adrienne Rampaul, Director, Human Resources (aka: Talent Acquisition & Happiness Manager) at Clearhead: The Digital Optimization Company to share their story. Clearhead, an Austin-based digital experience optimization company, was acquired by Accenture Interactive not long ago. The company has gone through many changes, yet remains focused on what Rampaul considers the single best employee reward any company can offer: having your voice heard.
“Culture is a living, breathing organism. You need to regularly take its pulse and adjust accordingly for it to thrive. If you neglect, ignore, or apply a one-size-fits-all solution, it might just die,” she says. While she recognizes that most employees respond well to universal rewards like recognition programs and standardized monetary incentives, she also cautions that how each employee values those rewards can be subjective.
“Rewards are ‘in the eye of the beholder.’ Different folks value different things at different times. So, if you don’t start out by listening—really listening—to employees and responding to what they tell you is important to them, then any reward program you put in place will fall short.”
As a problem-solving, optimization and personalization design company, Clearhead takes this responsibility very seriously. According to Rampaul, each Clearheader is empowered with what they call See Something Say Something (SSSS), a program that allows each employee to use their voice to solve goal-blocking problems. SSSS is paired with regular pulse surveys and a culture of transparency and collaboration that’s built into nearly all processes and tools.
“We’re not short of opportunities to hear from, listen to, and take action for our people,” she explains. “It wasn’t perfect when we started. But with the right programs in place and the right people to keep those programs iterating and thriving, we’ve been able to grow, improve, and offer a variety of rewards. Most importantly, we’ve built the respect, trust, and flexibility for each Clearheader to tap into what they need, when they need it.”
Those rewards start with a formal benefits package, which grew and diversified as the company did.
“As a young startup, we couldn’t offer the richest plans and all the bells-and-whistles a company like Google could offer, but we offered what we could in other ways. For us, this was a biannual profit-sharing bonus for everyone, along with a 3% base-pay increase for cost of living annually.”
Then, they layered on the “soft” rewards that each Clearheader could earn, prioritize, and utilize based on their preferences.
“We implemented a monthly ‘Spot Bonus’ program, for example, which rewarded anyone ‘spotted’ going above and beyond. Flexible work schedules, work-from-home/remote offerings, dog-friendly offices, fully stocked kitchens, and unlimited sick time were a few of the options available for folks to balance what worked best for them. Now that we’re a part of Accenture Interactive, our ability to offer diverse rewards has only gotten better.”
Once you’ve created a great starting benefits package and have instilled a culture of listening and responding to employees, the options for effective “soft” rewards are endless. For inspiration, check out these resources:
- Insperity’s 52 Epic Ways to Reward Employees including VIP parking for the day, lunch with the boss, or even a surprise mortgage payment.
- Bonusly’s 55 Creative Employee Reward Ideas including the honor of designing the company swag, master classes, and a Sock Club (seriously just like it sounds: the company gets a new pair of socks each month to gift to an employee).
- YouEarnedIt’s 9 Ways to Create the Best Possible Employee Incentive Options including the Austin company’s expert advice on mixing monetary and non-monetary rewards for the best results.
“Depending on your business, size and scale, offering ‘all the things’ may not be an option,” Rampaul concludes. “It’s ok. Don’t limit yourself in the definition of ‘rewards.’ Learn what ‘rewards’ means to your people. Then get creative in implementation. You’ll soon find that you’re creating and sustaining a rewards culture, which is where you want to be.”