Fresh out of college with my new degree in hand, I took my first HR job, ready to revolutionize my new workplace. Of course, I had no idea what was in store for me. Effecting change is a lot of work; it is a lot of pushing, prodding, and coming up against brick walls. It is almost enough to make the status quo look inviting.
I have found though, that change can happen, and one of the best ways to encourage change is to have a solid employee motivational program in place. Although a simple program is easy to implement and maintain, I have seen that the idea is often discounted or practiced inconsistently.
My motivational program has four parts and costs very little, yet it has made a great impact on the company. My strategy is easy: Set long-term goals but award in the short term. At the start of the year, employees are asked to meet goals throughout the year that increase company productivity and revenue. For example, one of our companywide challenges for this year was for employees to have a year of perfect attendance.
Once the goals are established, the next hurdle is to keep employees focused on the long-term goals in the present. I do this through a series of reward levels. This is how "Operation Motivate Employees" was born. It has four parts.
Part One: Reward Weekly
Every week, short praise notes are sent to employees in each department throughout the company. Notes contain such praise as "Thanks for going the extra mile with your customer" or "Thanks for staying late to get the job done!" (You can do this yourself if you are able to observe employee actions, or you can insist that managers and supervisors single out employees each week.)
Part Two: Reward Monthly
Every month each department has a breakfast awards meeting to honor employees who have met the established goals for the entire month. Additionally, the department that has performed the best for the month earns the company's "traveling trophy." The only cost is the price of breakfast food (donuts are always a favorite), a congratulatory certificate, and candy bars to go with the certificates. (Set up a clear system for calculating the departmental traveling trophy winnercompetition can become fierce!)
Part Three: Reward Quarterly
Once each quarter the entire company meets for awards. Employees who have met or exceeded the established goals for the entire quarter are recognized. Prizes include coupons for paid time off or small gift cards, and, of course, there are always donuts!
Part Four: Reward Yearly
At the end of the year, at a special event, the company honors employees who have met the established goals all year long. The prizes are significant (OK, this does cost more than a donut), and the employees strive to earn them.
To date, this simple strategy has employees working harder than ever before. They want to win the traveling trophy recognizing their department as the best in the company, they want to earn the individual prizes, and they want to be recognized in front of their peers.
And the payoff for the company? Absenteeism is down 48%, productivity is up, and the company has directly saved $9,500.
The great thing about a motivational program like this one is it can be designed and tweaked to fit any company. Our company is small, and giving rewards often keeps the employees focused. A bigger organization may have different needs, but regardless of the size or nature of your organization, the foundation that a motivational program lays has the potential to make the revolutionary changes you have in mind. I'm already making the ones I had in mind at the start of my career.
By Nicole Capehart, HR Manager, American Realcorp