SMEs urged to consider ‘small, regular rewards’ for staff to boost productivity

A new study into workplace productivity suggests that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) looking to motivate their staff will achieve better results if they offer smaller, more regular rewards to high-performing team members, as opposed to paying their employees an annual bonus.

The research, which recently appeared in Business Matters magazine, suggests that only 30 per cent of employees tend to feel more motivated when receiving one big reward at the end of the year.

Among younger workers, the percentage is even less – with just a quarter of 18 to 24 year-olds claiming that annual bonuses keep them motivated, and just 27 per cent of 25 to 34 year-olds feeling the same.

The study, which was carried out by business marketing firm Sodexo Engage, found that the majority of employees across all age groups would prefer to be offered smaller rewards throughout the year for good work – and that, interestingly, such rewards did not always have to be cash-based.

Overall, four in ten SME employees said that this would be the best approach their bosses could take in order to keep them feeling motivated and rewarded throughout the year.

This figure rose to almost half (47 per cent) among younger workers aged between 18 and 34, the report reveals.

Commenting on the findings, Iain Thomson, of Sodexo Engage, said: “Our research shows a change in attitude among British workers when it comes to being rewarded.

“Cash incentives are no longer having the effect they had 10 years ago.

“Rewards like these have almost come to be expected by some employees, which can actually devalue their achievements,” he said.

“What people really want is a closer relationship with their employer and more opportunities to be rewarded. Rather than cash, which can get lost in bills and household expenses, employers have the opportunity to give their employees something more memorable. This will help businesses to create much stronger relationships with their staff.”