For decades, “customer satisfaction” was the buzzword, because it was thought to be the key to a successful business. However, recently it’s been said that the success of your business starts a lot closer to home. It starts in your shop with your employees.
“Employee engagement” has become the buzzword of the day. But it’s not just a buzzword. It’s a proven tactic of success. Don’t just take our word for it, though. Here’s what Gallup, the international polling company, found in a recent study. Companies with high employee engagement outperformed companies with low engagement by:
- 10% on customer ratings
- 21% in productivity
- 22% in profitability
These high-engagement companies also had significantly less turnover, absenteeism and quality defects. Pretty convincing numbers all the way around. So how do you get higher engagement in your shop? When handled correctly, an employee recognition and reward program can work wonders. The key word in that sentence is “correctly.” There are some general rules about employee reward programs and employee recognition that will help your efforts become successful.
Keep annual or semi-annual raises or bonuses separate from your employee reward program. In most companies, raises and bonuses are rewards for personal and business success. In the beginning of the year, you should set goals for your shop and for your employees. If those goals are met or exceeded over the course of the year—and if your projections for the next year look promising—that’s the time to increase someone’s base pay or give them a bonus. While raises and bonuses are definitely rewards, they’re rewards for long-term goals. Employee reward programs are about honoring your employees in the moment when they go above and beyond their job.
Say “thank you.” If you do nothing else, at least tell your employees thank you for a job well done. Never underestimate the power of stopping for a moment, looking a person in the eyes and sincerely telling them “thank you.” It costs nothing, and you might be surprised how much it can increase performance and productivity.
Money is the worst reward. Don’t get us wrong. Money is great. It’s just not a great reward. Because of how our brains are wired, the same reward doesn’t produce the same sense of satisfaction when you get it the second and third (and more) times. This goes for money, too. The first time you slide a tech $100 bill on a Friday as a reward for a great week, he’ll be very grateful. The next time you give him a $100, he won’t be as grateful, because it’s expected. In order to get the same response as the first time, you’ll need to give him more. And the next time? Even more. You can see where this goes.
Use smaller, more frequent rewards. What kind of small, frequent rewards? You know your shop and your techs better than we do, so think about what your folks would like. That said, you can start with some of these basic employee recognition ideas:
- Bringing in lunch on a busy day
- Giving someone an afternoon off
- Awarding gift cards
- Celebrating birthdays in the shop
- Establishing awards, such as Employee of the Month or Best Job of the Month (for a well-done project) or Best Catch of the Month (for good quality control)
Most importantly, know your employees. Unfortunately, rewards programs can backfire sometimes. Rewards should be a sign that you’re paying attention—not just to a person’s performance, but to the person himself. Do you have a tech that doesn’t drink coffee? Don’t hand him a Starbuck’s gift card as a reward. Did you hear that a tech’s wife is pregnant? Send him home with flowers. This is the most impactful kind of recognition. It’s recognizing someone as a person, not just as an employee. And when people are recognized, they perform better and don’t think about leaving their jobs. In the end, taking the time to be a good person will make you a better employer, which will make your employees more engaged. And as we saw earlier, engaged employees are good for your business and profitability. But that’s in the long-term. In the short-term, it just feels good to recognize a job well done and give your people a good place to work.