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Reward Employees.jpgby Steve Strauss


Here is how not to reward employees:


One summer after law school, I got a job at a law firm with a dubious reputation, but hey, it was a job. The gig was fine, not great, and so I was surprised a few months later when the firm announced it was going to have a holiday party. The first clue we had that something was amiss was that we were explicitly told that no spouses or partners were allowed at the party.


A few weeks later we went to the party on, of all things, a Thursday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. Like I said, it was strange. But things got downright weird when the managing partner took to the microphone to announce that we still needed to bill for the two hours we had been at the party and so everyone was expected to go back to the office after it was over and work late.


Not surprisingly, I was thrilled when the firm let me go a few weeks later; it was like being sprung from jail.


There are right ways and wrong ways to reward employees. The important thing to note is that the right ways can pay big dividends long term as happy employees become loyal employees and loyal employees make for happy customers.


Here are six easy and great ways to reward employees:


1. Flexibility:


Being flexible with your staff is simple and it can be incredibly useful in creating and maintaining a team willing to go the extra mile. Treating employees like adults and making accommodations for their lives and needs may not sound like an “employee benefit,” but if you have ever worked someplace where that is not the case, you know it is.


Letting people start work a bit late or leaving a bit early, or understanding that sometimes things come up during the work day, creates a cooperative culture. Your employees will appreciate and respect your flexibility, and that will in turn lead to loyalty and a happier work environment.


2. Special days off


It might be fun to let employees take the day off on their birthday, or anniversary, or Martin Luther King Day, or Purim, or whatever. Let them decide. When it comes to employee rewards, it is often the little things that lead to the best results.


3. Food/treats


As we all know, food is the way to a person’s heart and so, if you have the means to provide free food in the workplace, this can be a great benefit. Indeed, one thing you will notice if you ever see a profile of bigger businesses that get lauded for their employee benefits (think Google or Facebook) is that they consistently offer staff free food.


And note, it need not be free meals. If the budget is a little too tight to keep food in the office on a daily basis, consider bringing in bagels or donuts every week or two. Buy the staff lunch, grab coffee for everybody, etc.


4. Employee of the Month


This is one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it’s here because it works. The key to good employee benefits is that they make employees feel appreciated. People want to feel special, especially in a work setting, and they love it when their efforts are recognized. That is where the Employee of the Week or Month comes in. Yes, it may be a bit corny, but offering that recognition, along with a little prize, works.


5. Gifts/prizes


Speaking of prizes, offering up small gifts or prizes as incentives is a great way to ensure quality work. They don’t have to be grand or expensive things either. Everyone loves winning prizes/contest, regardless of what the reward actually is. You could offer tangible things, like gift cards, lunch paid for by the boss, candy, or movie tickets. You could offer up extra days off or a long lunch as potential prizes – the options are many.


6. Saying thank you


This one is the simplest and probably the most important. As a manager or business owner, it is your job to pay attention to how things are running, and how your employees are working and feeling. Take note of things that are going well, and look out for people who are going the extra mile, or have truly accomplished something special. Take a moment to thank these people earnestly and regularly. It will make a difference.

There are many fun, creative things you can do to keep your employees happy and motivated, and, happily, they don’t need to include working overtime.



Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Employee Productivity.jpgby Rieva Lesonsky


The U.S. government measures it, smart devices help us track it, and business leaders obsess about it. Productivity is the holy grail for business owners seeking to make their businesses more profitable.


Here are 10 hacks to help your employees be more productive at work.


1. Encourage (or require) breaks.


Whether your employees have desk jobs, manufacturing or service jobs, breaks are essential. One study found the most productive people work for 52 minutes at a stretch and then take a 17-minute break. Intense focus on work, followed by a break, rejuvenates both mental and physical energy.


2. Get employees moving.


Breaks work best when they’re taken away from the desk, computer or workstation. Encourage your staff to do quick stretches (even as a group) or head outside for a short walk. Sit-stand desks let staffers get moving while working; Texas A&M University research found employees using them are up to 46 percent more productive.


3. Reduce distractions.


For office workers, our always-on digital culture can lead to an endless cycle of checking email, chat, social media and then starting all over again. Reduce technology distractions with “meeting-free” days, “no email” days, work from home days or office quiet hours. Since email and other communication technologies are designed to be addictive, Deloitte suggests using apps to remind employees to take breaks.


4. Give workers autonomy.


Don’t micromanage. Employees hate it, and unhappy workers are less productive. Research by the University of Melbourne shows managers who provide support and autonomy, rather than micromanaging, are more likely to have happier employees and greater workplace well-being.


5. Connect with workers’ deeper motivations.


In some industries, such as food service, work requires following a set formula without much room for discretion. For this type of job, tying work in to an employee’s larger motivations, such as supporting their families, has been shown to boost productivity. Hold “bring your child to work” days, company picnics, and other family-friendly events that connect workers’ families and the job. If possible, allow employees flexible hours or other arrangements to meet their personal needs.


6. Provide stable hours.


Do your employees’ hours and shifts change every week? Keeping schedule changes to a minimum has been shown to make businesses more productive. In a study with the Gap, consistent, predictable hours improved employee retention, making the stores more productive.


7. Create a variety of spaces.


If you’ve adopted the open office trend, you may want to reconsider. Staples Annual Workplace Survey reports 37 percent of workers in open-plan offices consider their workspace distracting. Provide some quiet places, meeting rooms, and common spaces such as break rooms so employees can escape the open plan when necessary.


8. Light it up.


Exposure to light strongly influences our alertness levels. Allow as much natural light into your workspace as you can, or purchase desk lamps that mimic natural light.


9. Allow remote work.


Only 32 percent of employees spend all their work time at the office. More than half (57 percent) say working remotely removes distractions. Some 3.9 million workers currently telecommute at least half-time, according to the 2017 State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Employee Workforce report, which estimates half-time telecommuting boosts productivity by 15 percent.


10. Engage your employees.


This really isn’t a hack—it’s a long-term project. According to  Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report, 85 percent of employees are either not engaged or actively disengaged at work, causing $7 trillion in lost productivity annually. Disengaged workers have 37 percent higher absenteeism, 49 percent more accidents, and 60 percent more errors and defects in their work, Harvard Business Review reports.


To increase employee engagement, treat your staff with respect, provide learning opportunities, offer competitive wages and benefits, and foster community at work. These actions aren’t quick fixes, but they’re worth the effort. Creating a team of engaged employees is the best way to boost your business’s productivity



Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.


Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

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