By Andy Philpott, Marketing Director from Edenred

In the current economic climate and in the face of high staff turnover, it’s now more important than ever for companies to ensure managers maximise the performance of their people by optimising employee engagement across all areas of a businesses.

Recent research commissioned by Edenred confirms this, showing that employee engagement levels in UK business as a whole are worryingly low and that the proportion of staff feeling engaged has dropped by half since 2005.

However, there are ways in which these issues can be addressed. Motivation schemes that offer staff incentives have proved highly successful in addressing the issue of turnover, improving engagement and raising performance. They provide a focus for activity, either short or long term, and generate attention, interest and momentum, which may be lacking on a day to day basis. What’s more, staff motivation and positive feeling translates through to the end user and can therefore play a part in generating repeat business.

How to deliver a motivation programme

Here are some tips on how managers can motivate their staff:

•Research what reward will motivate all members of staff. If they don’t value the reward, it won’t have any beneficial effects on morale and engagement levels.

•Don’t just concentrate on rewarding top achievers — use incentive and motivation strategies to increase employee engagement and lift performance at all levels within your organisation.

•Consider an incentive programme that really creates hype and excitement within your organisation. Frequent instant prizes have an immediate impact on the level of motivation and atmosphere.

•Offer team rewards as well as those for individuals. If the team reward is powerful, it is a good way to push the strong performers to help the new or poorer members of staff to also succeed.

•Look at peer-run incentive programmes where staff can give a colleague recognition for ‘outstanding work’ by nominating them for a reward.

•Use vouchers or travel rewards to recognise staff achievements as cash bonuses can be lost in monthly salaries and the value of the reward is therefore lost for the recipient.

•Finally, the efforts and achievement of all should be publicly recognised at company meetings with personal presentations by a senior manager.

The act of saying ‘thank you’ via a reward is a very important activity but is often not delivered and executed in a way that maximises the motivational and engagement returns that it should. The key to this is timing — plan and deliver a communication that precedes, accompanies and follows the act of giving a reward as these are all key opportunities to drive performance. A planned communications strategy is essential to secure initial buy in, and this then needs to continue throughout the rewards process. It is a mistake to think a reward scheme can run itself once it has been implemented. Instead, managers should build on the scheme via an ongoing engaging communication in order to continually increase performance.

Incentives and rewards can take various forms, ranging from gifts, cash, to trips and experience days. Some of the gift and reward solutions available are as follows:

Multi-retailer vouchers
Vouchers that can be redeemed at many high street chains — these are instantly available and suit all ages and tastes

Single chain retail vouchers and gift cards
These provide instant brand recognition, but the choice is limited to one store group and may not suit everyone, unless carefully matched to the audience.

Gift cards
Multi-option gifts cards that can be redeemed as many stores are effective. Particularly if branded, then provide a reminder in the wallet of how the credit was earned.

Incentive cards
Some of these can be rechargeable, so the rewards can be paid in phases.

Recipients can enjoy a wide range of memorable and motivational activities on land, sea and in the air. These range from the most exhilarating pursuits such as skydiving and driving sports cars, to more relaxing pastimes like spa treatments and hot air balloon rides.

Motivation schemes that offer staff incentives can result in a positive impact across all areas of a business. Rewards can engage and motivate employees resulting in a good atmosphere and productive workforce. Rewards also help to achieve targets and improve momentum within a business. Companies that have an efficient rewards programme in place are likely to in a position to gain competitive advantage and move ahead in their sectors over the coming years.

For more information on rewards and their role in motivating people, head to http://www.edenred.co.uk/incentives-and-rewards or visit http://ehub.edenred.co.uk/ to download free articles and whitepapers covering the challenges of engaging and motivating people.