In a couple of short weeks, the excitement and warm fuzziness of the festive season will be behind us and thoughts will turn to the new year ahead. New Year’s resolutions will be made and many people will be thinking about a “fresh start”.

Inevitably, the mood in the workplace during those first few crucial days back at work in January is likely to be lethargic and uninspiring. People are easily distracted by personal admin, booking a holiday somewhere warm or even a new job opportunity. Add to that the fact that motivation by managers is often poor at the start of the year and you have the perfect storm of apathy and disengagement.

Compounding this further is the fact that one third of employees won’t have received any sort of reward from their employer in the past year, according to our most recent employee survey on incentives and motivation. Hardly the most promising start to 2018.

But all is not lost. As their manager, there is no better time for you to refresh your thinking and approach to motivating your teams to perform.

 

Here are 3 steps you can take to ensure that incentives are at the heart of your reward and recognition programme for 2018.

 

  1. One-off rewards are not enough

According to our survey, a third of respondents think that reward should be given more frequently throughout the year. Consistency is almost as important, with just over a quarter of employees saying this matters to them.

One in five employees say they would work harder if there was more chance for reward, yet the same number of respondents say their employer doesn’t understand how important reward is to them.

This provides a great opportunity for employers to review their approach for the year ahead. Everyone is influenced by an incentive so paying attention to what you do and say to inspire people over the course of the year can have a massive impact on motivation and therefore on performance and productivity.

 

  1. Give reward with meaning

 Our survey shows that the most common reward given by employers last year was cash (29%). Yet there are better, more effective ways to show appreciation and motivate employees.

Cash tends to be swallowed up in mundane items such as household bills and the benefit your staff receive is relatively short-lived. What’s more, cash is a delicate subject and the wrong amount can have the opposite effect of being motivating.

A well-considered, meaningful reward from a line manager in recognition of a job well done will be appreciated and valued. And size isn’t everything – one third of our survey respondents say that small employee rewards are a small price to pay for the extra work they do.

But keep in mind that a modern workforce is likely to constitute a varied mix of people with different preferences and priorities so tailoring your reward is essential.

Digital rewards give your employees access to a wide range of incentives – including instant eGift cards, gift cards, vouchers, travel, and experience days – without any of the administrative burden usually associated with a more complex recognition programme. They also have double the impact on your employees: once when the reward is received and again when the reward is redeemed and spent.

 

  1. Communicate effectively

Running a really good, well thought-out incentives scheme will only create the desired results if your teams know about it and buy into it.

Present a clear plan at the start of the year to show how you intend to incentivise consistently and back it up with regular communications to avoid it becoming one of those initiatives that’s forgotten about when work gets busier again.

Ask for feedback to your suggestions and listen to it. What kind of incentives would your team like to receive? How would they like to receive them? Show them you understand the importance of reward that is effective and personal.

And whatever you do to incentivise your team, remember to say “thank you” – often and sincerely. Even better, encourage your teams to show gratitude to each other too, creating a positive atmosphere of mutual appreciation and respect.

 

Andy Philpott is Marketing and Sales Director at Edenred.

Follow @andy_philphott