With a New Year comes the opportunity to re-evaluate your business practices. We understand that evaluating and adapting your business can be a staggering process that may lead to creating an abundance of new work. However, when it comes to a fresh start, it’s best to start with the foundation of your business, your employees!

Today we’re going to talk about fresh starts, how to avoid old mistakes in employment engagement and how your business can gain an advantage over the competition with better employee recognition efforts.

Employee Reward Engagement and Competitive Advantage

Employee Engagement

To begin with the basics, “Feedback and training are two things that should not be skipped”, says Chris Powell, CEO of Talmetrix. It’s fairly obvious why this is a true statement. Without training, no person can be (as) effective at their specific job and without feedback, corrections can not be made to their behavior or performance. However, there is another factor that is often overlooked when discussing employee performance – ‘Engagement’.

Employee engagement is a workplace approach resulting in the right conditions for all members of an organisation to give of their best each day, committed to their organisation’s goals and values, motivated to contribute to organisational success, with an enhanced sense of their own well-being. – engageforsuccess.org

Engaged employees are much more valuable than many managers may realize. Recent research shows that they are 17% more productive and 21% more profitable for their companies. Moreover, highly engaged employees help customer service metrics, such as brand loyalty, increase by upwards of 10%.

The hard part is creating a company culture that stimulates this type of engagement. Because of that, it’s very important to learn what to avoid, and what to focus on improving!


  • Don’t fear feedback. It can be difficult to get ‘bad’ feedback. Why? Well, because no one likes knowing they’re doing a bad job. Managers can often be afraid to either give or receive negative feedback. However, critical feedback leads to understanding weak points in your operation. Then, it’s possible to correcting those behaviors or strategies in order to further your business. Barely 6% of employees think that their good suggestions or valid complaints lead to company changes. If you skip feedback, employees won’t feel heard, can’t improve and will thus be less engaged. The solution? Talk to your employees. Survey them. The more pointed the questions, the more specific your staff can be and the more valuable data you get.
  • Don’t Normalize Good Work. We all want the best for, and out of, our employees. Although we as managers expect a certain level of expertise and work ethic, it’s a terrible thing to normalize. The problem is, if you don’t recognize the exceptional (bc you expect it all of the time) then employees won’t stay motivated. As far back as human psychology is recorded, reward mechanisms are a major motivator for positive behavior. You’d be surprised how far a ‘good job’, or ‘thank you’ can go.
  • Don’t Skip Training. Proper training takes time… and usually a lot of it. For too many managers, the time expense isn’t worth the return. That’s a flat-out terrible thought process. As an illustration, a 2016 survey showed over 70% of hospitality workers had not participated in ANY TYPE of training!! And we think it’s unusual to complain about the service restaurants?! Now apply that to your business. If you have 10 employees who represent your brand, and 7 of them don’t get trained properly, your slitting your own throat in terms of your business’s longevity. Reminds us of a famous quote:

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. – Abraham Lincoln

  • Don’t Fail to Establish Trust. Why aren’t many managers willing to give trust to employees? There are obvious examples – theft, misconduct, harassment etc… but we’re under the impressions that a single (or a few) bad employee is not a large enough test pool to make standardized assumptions about your entire labor force. Realizing that you’re generalizing, based on a particular negative experience, isn’t enough to make everyone offer trust. You have to practice ‘trust’ as a manager. Start small by delegating a certain amount of control to your employees. Customer service issue? Allow your employee to manage that situation. Maybe create a small discretionary budget for your office manager to make improvement to your office space. These small steps go a long way with your employees AND you’ll have less to deal with as a manager.

Employee Recognition

Now that we’ve gone over what to avoid, we’re going to give a few short tips on how to recognize the success of employees, after being properly engaged. First, we want to point out that although employee recognition can lead to a competitive advantage for your business, the key goal is to build the relationship between management and employee. This is a classic win-win situation.

Human capital is very different from financial capital. It encompasses ambitions, emotions, feelings and values. Due to these human elements, it’s important to realize that money (capital) isn’t always the best reward. Recently the IRF (Incentive Research Foundation) examined some of the top grossing companies in the world and asked, “why do they also have better customer service, better employee ratings and larger brand footprints?” As it turns out, all of these incredible companies have the following stats in common:

  • Each researched company was 90% more likely to reward sales teams, 88% more likely to reward all others employees and 81% more likely to reward business partners, when compared to their average counterparts

So, how do you reach your maximum potential, while increasing employee engagement and rewarding hard work? First, there are various types of rewards. We all think of cash as a motivator, but there are MANY non-cash rewards that business leaders believe work as even stronger motivators.

  • Listen to Other Executives. At many of the top Fortune 500 companies, executive leaders are 35% more likely to believe that ‘non-cash’ rewards and recognition are critical in managing company performance. Also, 30% percent of these same executives believe employee rewards, including non-cash rewards, are a huge competitive advantage. If rewards (even non-cash) work for the most successful companies in the world, it will work for you. Think outside the box and let your employees know that you care!
  • Pay More Per Reward. A basic tenant of business is, “you have to spend money to make money.” Reward payouts are no different. Top performing companies have higher payouts than average companies. The sales people in one of these top performing companies can expect an average of 4K in non-cash rewards versus 2.5K in average companies. We’re not saying break the bank, but don’t skirt by with cheap solutions, that may not even make the employee feel valued in the first place. That would be a double loss.
  • Reward More Employees, Not Just Top Performers. Many of the world’s top performing companies  (56% of them in fact) say they prioritize rewarding as many employees as possible, NOT just the top performers of sales and employee programs.

It’s important to note that we’re not advocating, in anyway, participation trophies. In fact, we feel pretty strongly that the participation award mentality will weaken your organization. What we are saying is, “catch people doing something right”, acknowledge that and allow your employees to feel a sense of pride in their work.

As always, we’re here for you and your business needs. If you need to talk sanitation, business development or anything in between, just give us a call.

Thanks for all you do and Happy New Year!!

Phone: (706) 864-3776
Toll Free: (800) 241-7951
E-mail: Office@polyportables.com

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