It’s something our research for corporate clients has uncovered time and time again; it is the employees in an organisation that provide the biggest advantage and greatest differentiator. As one of the greatest assets to a business, leaders should be doing their utmost to position employees for success through motivation and appreciation, whether incentives are tangible or not.

The most effective approaches integrate employee wellbeing initiatives that speak to a brand’s agenda and therefore employee experience.

The background

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs shows how employment can support workers, at the most basic level, in providing shelter and sustenance, thus fulfilling their most primitive physiological needs. Beyond this, long term income can also offer safety and security, as well as driving awareness of personal health through the provision of employer-funded health insurance. However, with the ongoing political, social and technological changes happening globally and the resulting uncertainty this is causing, employees’ basic needs for belonging, confidence, and personal fulfilment are threatened. Such sentiments are becoming apparent among employees worldwide and are exemplified in the findings from Aon’s most recent employee engagement survey (2017). Having moved up the ranks from third place in last year’s research, ‘Rewards & Recognition’ were identified by global workforces as the top engagement opportunity for organisations worldwide.

What recognition do we want?

The type of recognition employees seek from employers has also undergone transition, fundamentally changing the way recognition and reward are viewed in the workplace. Bill Alexander, CEO Red Letter Days for Business, has observed a shift away from cash rewards in favour of more authentic, personal and meaningful rewards that focus on well-being, work life balance, charitable and environmental health or unique one-off experiences.

How is it being done

As such, companies are increasingly exploring a variety of approaches that will create a positive work environment and aid productivity. One example is UK telecommunications provider Sky who have developed ‘Sky Street’ in their West-London main office. This is a new boulevard that traverses the buildings and walkways around the campus to unite their 7,500 employees under a common interest – food and drink. The concept is intended to offer a dynamic alternative to corporate canteens and unite staff to further Sky’s vision and encourage regular, healthy eating habits among colleagues.

Such a differentiated employee offering not only evokes a real sense of cohesion amongst the workers, but also furthers Sky’s ambitions to develop a workplace culture that incorporates their vision for the brand, and ultimately, employee experience.

What about the figures?

Conducting an annual incentive survey amongst our own employees has also highlighted the value of offering a recognition programme and allowing employees a say in what that looks like. In last year’s survey, for example, 56% of respondents were driven to work harder and 55% felt motivated to ‘go above and beyond what is expected’ to be in with the chance of going on an all-expenses paid holiday with other award winners. We actioned the feedback and incorporated recognition options to suit everyone. One year on and we asked the same questions, this time 64% of employees felt motivated to help the business achieve its goals and 67% are now working to go above and beyond what is expected.

So that’s how it’s done. By listening to your employees and working around them. Keen to keep your place in the market? Show an awareness of employees needs beyond the four walls of the office.

Alicia Exworthy is an Insight Consultant at Talent Works International (TWI). TWI is a global talent communications firm that helps organisations around the world build effective and efficient talent strategies through our research, sourcing and creative teams.