My team and I were brainstorming ideas on why employees do not respond to rewards and we came to the conclusion that the game doesn’t work. OK, so it isn’t a breakthrough, but most businesses keep on using this same system of dangling a carrot in front of employees and expecting different results. That is the definition of insanity.
Instead of finding a new carrot, turn things around and get your employees to reward themselves and you have a reward system that works.
What most of you have is a top down (the ownership/leadership down to the front line) philosophy. It doesn’t work because the expectations are all wrong. If you expect your front-line employees to understand why you are pushing them harder or threatening to lay them off and expecting them to bring in more money, you have lost your mind! Your expectations and their needs are far apart. You didn’t ask what motivates them. You did what you always do…make a decision for the team.
- You want more sales, more customers, and more savings.
- They want better working conditions, better pay, and more input into the success of the business.
What if you gave them the ability to reward themselves? What would that look like? How could you develop a system where you rewarded the employees meeting your needs with things they want and need. Make the system an outside venture that creates an environment inside your stores that increases profits. There are many reasons to create something like this, but the biggest reason is that once a business gets to a certain level, it loses the ability to hear the employees who helped make it successful.
So, how do you turn things around and get people who would normally not want to reach for goals get to them? Let them reward themselves. Businesses are horrible at rewards for behavior that improves things. Part of it is that management isn’t consistent with rewards and part of it is that the rewards they give don’t mean anything. Making it part of your business culture is how to avoid these problems.
I have worked with hourly employees my whole career. They are the front-line of a business and the ones most ignored. Want to hear what the business is really REALLY like? Give them the honor of speaking their mind without the fear of being fired for being honest. The reward for being able to tell the owners and managers the way they see things is simply the knowledge that they are heard. Also, the reward to you is that you can fix broken parts of your business that you did not even know were there.
The Wheel of Winning
I love to get a bunch of ideas on rewards from a group and then make it a game to reward them by chance. Ask for reward ideas from each of your employees. Two ideas to be exact. One idea that has a cost limit (say $25) and one idea that is limitless. The reward for doing this is that you get to know how your employees think about rewards and you can surprise them (if the limitless one is reasonable) with a big prize. If you are handy, you can build a wheel that you can attach cards with the rewards written on them and spin the wheel to pick the prize. If you aren’t handy, you can put the rewards in envelopes and just have the winner pick one. The best part is that they OWN the rewards.
Pick A Group to Help
We have always been interested in helping others. Have your team pick a charity, group, or family to help that month, quarter, or year. They will each have a different idea of a group that they like to help. You can do a little for each or pick one as a team that you can make a difference helping. The reward for doing this goes beyond the work you do every day. The reward is showing that you are part of something bigger than your brand. I picked Children’s Miracle Network to help this year. I bet the Atlanta Co-op of Great Clips salons that if they could raise $80,000 for CMN in the month of October, I would let them shave my hair down to a mohawk. To say they were excited about raising money for a worthy charity does not say enough.
Change the Patterns
If you look at how your employees file into the office, store, etc., you will notice a pattern. Change the pattern and you will increase the rewards. Allow them to paint their parking spot, allow them to pick a new place in the office to work, allow them to decorate space away from the selling floor. There are more ideas than these few ideas to reward your team and make the culture better.
The best reward is to listen, talk, and act. Giving up some structure to your business is a good thing. People are individuals and need to be treated as the creative, honest, hard-working team members that you hired. Making them fit your culture doesn’t work. Either you are on your team or you are an outsider looking in.
You may have noticed that there is no advertising on this site. The more we help, the more we are rewarded (good karma).
Bob Griffin – CEO and Founder