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With the recent news about the UK unemployment rate falling below 2 million for the first time since the financial crisis, things are looking up. But renewed confidence in the job market means many are considering a new job.<!--?xml:namespace prefix = "o" ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /-->

If your staff are not feeling valued or fulfilled you could be in danger of losing them. I believe 2015 is the year when we will see even more companies investing in and embracing staff engagement. Not only to retain employees, but to make staff feel engaged and happy in the workplace.

A trend in particular that has been emerging, and that I believe will continue in 2015, is reward schemes having buy-in at board level. Owners, directors and CEOs all want part of the action. Why? Because, they recognise that an engaged team is the best way to stand out from their competitors.

Gone are the days where each department has their own technique and budget to incentivise their team. More and more companies are choosing to invest in a staff engagement campaign that spans the entire business. These campaigns will support the business’s aims, rather than sit alongside them.

An internal communications plan is put in place to ensure every member of staff understands the programme. Everyone’s goal to succeed is the same. It brings employees closer together and company values start to become more consistent. This trend has had an impact on evaluation.

More businesses are putting an emphasis on evaluating their internal reward scheme and looking to do this over a long timeframe. From tracking why staff are being rewarded to what areas staff are not being rewarded for. This analysis is enabling talent to be acknowledged from the top, but also identifies where further improvements and training are required. Using in-depth analysis companies are able to use recognition programmes to learn more about their staff than ever before.

If you’re thinking about launching a staff engagement campaign, think carefully about what you offer as the reward. Vouchers are still popular, but companies have also started looking for the wow factor; something that will create unforgettable moments for staff. Group experiences and travel incentives are only going to get bigger in 2015 as companies want to ensure their reward packages offer something different to the competition.

Finally, one last trend that is going to be hot next year is loyal service schemes. Longest serving employees will more than likely still be with their company because they like their job – and are good at it. It’s these staff members that live and breathe company values, and are great role models to their peers.

Motivating longest-serving employees and making them feel valued is a great boost for them, but will also encourage other staff to be loyal and stay committed to their role.

So, if you’re thinking about developing a recognition programme for next year I’d recommend first and foremost having a chat with your CEO. Recognising it as a way to stand out above competitors and help the company’s journey towards its annual target, may get you buy-in at board level. And if you do, evaluate, evaluate, evaluate. Happy staff really does equal happy customers, which in turn equals better results for the bottom line.

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