How to motivate your people through employee benefits


It’s no HR secret that employee benefits are a crucial pillar of the employee experience, and – when done right – can provide a key advantage during recruiting and retaining talent. But what is often overlooked, is the positive effect that a great reward and benefits scheme can have on your employees’ motivation and, in turn, their overall performance.

How to motivate your people through employee benefits

It’s simple: low motivation equals poor work

An employee’s lack of motivation can come from many places; maybe they’re not enjoying the job or they don’t believe in the wider company mission. Above all, employees consistently express that they feel their employer does not care about them, nor appreciate their work.

A survey by Market Tools found that 76 per cent of employees were dissatisfied with the level of reward and recognition they received at work, and Gallup’s Re-Engineering Performance Management research revealed that just two in 10 employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work. Employers must tackle this if they want to future-proof their organisation, and continue to recruit top talent. It’s a plain fact; employees who are dissatisfied and unmotivated will produce poor quality work, or won’t work at all.

A Gallup study showed that  71 per cent of American workers were not engaged, or were actively disengaged, at work. This lack of motivation results in slow work production, and what does get produced is inevitably of sub-par quality. Disengaged employees can cost organisations up to $550 billion annually, according to Gallup. Whereas companies with actively motivated and engaged employees can make up to 2.5 times their usual annual revenue. With such extreme monetary implications in play, why are we not working harder to improve motivation at work?

Use unique benefits to create positive connotations

Research by Idea Connect showed that a benefits and recognition programme can boost performance by up to 44 per cent. A truly well-rounded and meaningful benefits programme offers employees more consistent and tangible appreciation than a monetary reward once a year, or a 10-year-service award. It provides more than the mandatory government pension and a half-hearted employee assistance programme – a truly well-rounded and meaningful benefits programme shows employees that they are cared about and that their employer is listening to them.

Where possible, work with the people themselves to build a benefits scheme together. Construction company Countryside created their own flexible benefits scheme in collaboration with employees, resulting in an even greater programme. Consulting with your employees regarding their benefits means not only are the benefits bespoke (and thus get more engagement), but employees also feel listened to and valued. It shows them that their work is appreciated and noticed. This kind of personalised benefits scheme has the capacity to create intrinsic motivation.  

Benefits create business advocates 

Another facet of benefits and their relation to employee motivation is how they can play into your employees’ lives outside of work, and the rewards that employers reap as consequence. Through introducing benefits beyond the basics, such as wellbeing, lifestyle or leisure benefits, employees will link those positive experiences back to work. Every time an employee uses their restaurant card for a discount at dinner, they’ll think of their employer; when they go on a kayaking experience day with their family, the photos and memories will remind them that work enabled the experience.

This inherent connotation provides positive reinforcement for the employee’s experience of work, and some added motivation to do a good job. The positive connotations with their employer means good word inevitably spreads among their social circle and even online sites such as Glassdoor, enabling you to reach an even broader pool of talent.

More motivation means more work

If your employees are feeling appreciated at work through their fantastic benefits, they’ll be more motivated to produce a higher volume of better quality work. A study by the Bersin Group revealed that productivity at companies with good benefits and incentive schemes was 14 per cent higher than those companies without, with the potential for up to a 43 per cent improvement in productivity. The bottom line is that a unique, interesting benefits programme makes employees feel valued and willing to give back to their employer.

Motivated employees value a position more

With this greater job satisfaction, people appreciate and value their jobs more – with appreciation, people are far less likely to move jobs. Organisations which implement a benefit and incentive programme experience a 31 per cent decrease in employee turnover, and benefits can be used as a strategic element of your recruitment package, as 57 per cent of job-hunters state that benefits are among their top considerations when considering a new role – Glassdoor’s 5 Job Trends to Watch in 2016.

The Aflac Workforces (2015) report found that 64 per cent of millennials noted benefits as ‘very important’ when regarding their loyalty to an employer, with 23 per cent saying it is ‘extremely important’. Further results from Deloitte’s Millennial Survey (2018) showed that 63 per cent of millennials and 51 per cent of Gen Z-ers said benefits were the most important aspect of an organisation for them.

Final thoughts

With benefits playing such a key role in every aspect of the employee journey – from recruitment and retainment to productivity and job satisfaction – this is not a factor of the employee experience that can be forgotten. Adjusting your benefits offering to improve motivation doesn’t have to mean a huge overhaul (potentially expensive and time-consuming). The likelihood is that most companies have existing schemes which can be easily expanded to increase productivity, employee loyalty and attract talent.

The fundamental evidence shows that good benefits schemes help to motivate your employees. If your employees aren’t motivated, consider that it may not be the employees that need changing, but your benefits.

The author is Matt Russell, chief sales officer at Benefex.

This article was provided by Benefex.


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