Reward staff without denting the budget

Creative Incentives

By Cara Jenkin   

Workers who are being denied a pay rise in the tough economic climate are being given special leave entitlements, gifts and flexible working hours to reward and encourage their loyalty.

South Australian employers are having to think outside the square to find ways to pay their staff or risk losing them to other companies who can afford to give them higher salaries.

Leave entitlements, such as a day off on the employee’s birthday or to spend the day reading a book, and special office social activities are among the most popular ways for bosses to treat their staff.

Other employers are allowing their staff a sleep-in with a later starting time or the chance to leave a few hours before knock-off to start the weekend early or hit the shops.

Recruitment firms have noticed an increased trend this year for employers to offer new and current staff incentives for their efforts, as companies struggle with pay freezes and budget cuts. While incentives are not new, recruiters say increasingly original and creative perks are being offered and more often to show staff they are appreciated.

Stillwell Management Consultants managing director, Daryl Stillwell, says employers are taking many different measures this year to reward their staff in lieu of a pay rise.

Some are providing staff with one paid day off each month to do as they wish while others are providing their employees with training opportunities.

“They are saying we’re all in this together. It’s tough economic times so let’s use this time and when things are quieter, work on their personal development,” Mr Stillwell says.

“They are providing time off and paying fees, in some cases, for extra training and development outside of work.

“Certainly employers are using it as a chance to re-strengthen their organisational culture and even taking the team out to a ten-pin bowling night followed by dinner, for example.”

Mr Stillwell says keeping the team motivated is an increasing focus for employers who are often restricted in what they can offer employees in a salary package by fringe benefits regulations.

“Employers are saying that at the moment we are in a position to offer an increase, we will. And in some cases, these same employers are saying to their team members, `we will make an agreement to give you a certain percentage increase at the moment economic circumstances have improved’,” he says.

Jobs Statewide chief executive Wendy Jayne-Williams says employers are increasingly offering incentives beyond salary to attract good people and reward the loyalty and hard work of existing staff.

She is aware of South Australian employers giving staff access to the company’s corporate box for entertainment shows and sporting matches, private health insurance, home delivered flowers and weekend breaks.

“Some employers are finding it difficult to offer pay rises,” she says.

“Many employers offer birthdays off and reading days.

“Reading days are given to employees to relax and just read a book, which is time that people find hard to put aside for themselves.”

Gym memberships and clothing vouchers have become more popular this year, she says.

MyBudget founder and director Tammy May says the company has provided incentives to staff since it formed 10 years ago. The incentives are provided off the cuff rather than as part of a salary package and regardless of if the employee received a pay rise that year.

Staff can receive tickets to sporting events, such as basketball, soccer and tennis games, hairdressing vouchers and weekends away or nights in hotels. A day off or the chance to leave early is also used to show employees they are appreciated, she says.

“If one of our employees does something outstanding for a client, we may reward them off the cuff with tickets to an event, a dinner voucher or a night away,” she says.

“Incentives also . . . support the caring culture we want. In turn, they can have a significant effect on the performance of the team or individual.”

* Birthday leave
* Festive leave
* Snack day
* Hotel accommodation
* Study leave
* Late starts
* Reading day
* Corporate box tickets
* Social nights
* Concert tickets

Article from The Advertiser, August 28, 2010.

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