Many employers think that employee reward is basically not firing them. But in times of lower job security, employees look at other rewards and benefits now

I once worked somewhere that thought rewarding their employees was by paying them. A bonus was allowing them to dress down on a Friday. Can you imagine what the staff turnover rate was? At the last calculation, I think it was about 85% annually.

Many employers think that employee reward is basically not firing them. It’s like the 1980’s called and they want their employment rights back. Unfortunately, times have changed and society has moved on. Most (not all) employers realise now that old-fashioned bullying tactics don’t cut it with a workforce that appreciates rewards in the form of recognition of their efforts.


When my previous employer used to treat dressing down as a treat, I always found it a bizarre reward. We worked in an office that was pretty much closed off to the outside world. Occasionally an outside visitor would come in for a meeting with someone very senior. I doubt very much that they cared about what the staff in the call centre worn. Or whether the men wore a tie or not. In such circumstances, does it really matter what your staff wear so long as they are decent? I can understand that swimwear or pyjamas might be an issue. But do jeans and trainers really affect someones ability to sit at a desk and answer a phone? I’ll save you the bother of answering that one. The answer is no.

Staff are actually more likely to be more productive and at ease, if they are comfortable. That includes comfortable with what they are wearing. Now obviously if staff are frontline facing or there is a requirement to wear a uniform then there’s an exception.

There used to be an expectation on a quite formal dress for management and women were expected to wear a suit or dress. I still don’t understand how wearing a dress made me more able to manage my staff or indeed do my job. Now, working for myself, you’d be lucky at the moment if you can get me to wear anything other than shorts and t-shirts. Most of the time I have a work uniform of jeans and a hoodie.


When I’ve spoken to many businesses in the past, the more old school ones don’t understand the need or the reasoning of rewarding staff. They take the approach that they pay them and provide them with jobs and surely that is enough. In this day and age, it simply isn’t.

Many jobs aren’t as secure these days as they were 20 or 30 years ago. It’s nearly a daily occurrence now that we hear of a huge business going into administration or closing the doors completely. Once over those businesses would have employed staff on the basis that they are a large, secure business that has been around for years. Remember Woolworths?

When it comes to recruiting, many employees don’t see salary as their number one deciding factor. Employee benefits and potential rewards can be seen as a more attractive option than just getting paid every month.

But rewarding employees isn’t just about topping up the salary. Employees place importance on their value and feeling valued in their role. I have worked for so many people in the past that loved to tell their employees how replaceable they were. Do you think that helps with making staff feel valued? I certainly didn’t. Do you think that makes them want to give their absolute best efforts every day? Does it hell as like. Did it stop them looking for new jobs? Nope.

Employee reward is a two-way street. If you want your staff to be loyal and work their hardest every day, it’s not enough to tell them they have job security for working hard, or that a trained chimp could do their job. Employee reward needs to be tangible.


I once managed a really large department. It had been badly managed previously and for a very long time. The jobs within the department were quite complex and not the easiest to train new staff for. As much as some of the longer serving staff had fallen into bad habits and had developed a huge level of disdain for the company, they knew what they were doing. However, these factors also made it very difficult to recruit and keep new staff.

New staff would come into a department with very low morale. An underlying bad attitude and then faced with learning a difficult job being taught by other staff that simply did not want to be there.

These longer serving staff had been ‘rewarded’ in the past by being paid every month and keeping their jobs. It had led to a toxic environment, zero loyalty and a thankless and impossible task of recruiting new staff.

The very simple act of rewarding those staff for both their hard work and long service would have gone a long way in resolving the departments’ issues. Loyal and long-serving staff are worth far more to any business than the salary number alone. The costs of recruiting and training new staff is often an unseen figure as it’s hard to quantify. The costs of bad recruiting or poor staff retention go way beyond the cost of placing a recruitment advert.


Lots of different companies reward their employees in lots of different ways. There isn’t specifically a one size fits all. Some modern tech companies will give their staff tech gadgets or organise retreats. Many offer free food, drinks and yoga classes. Depending on the size of the business some will have in-house gyms or recreation areas that are actually for relaxing. Then there are other methods that have been around for longer. Like an early finish on a Friday or paid for Christmas parties. The UK is also catching on to the idea of things like duvet days, snow days and personal days. I’ve even heard of menstrual days.

Things such as flexible working aren’t so much a reward anymore though. Flexibility is becoming more normal in the business working hours and actually helps recruit and retain staff. It also helps to meet business needs for when 9-5 Monday to Friday just doesn’t cut it.

There are some great programmes available to help businesses run effective reward and recognition schemes. Operating an official program also helps staff to focus on the rewards they want and are able to track and measure their own progress. It also ensures that the employer is operating such programmes in a fair way. Companies such as Corporate Rewards can help businesses create recognition, incentive and event programmes. They can even help with customer rewards.


Even though it seems like the place of large companies that reward staff, it’s actually just as important for the smallest of businesses. Or, for example, you are a start-up. When a business starts there isn’t much in the way of security that can be offered. And as anyone that has ever worked at a start-up or launch will tell you, it’s long, hard hours. It most certainly is not a standard 40 hour week. To get staff to take on that extra work and stress, you are going to have to offer more than just a salary. And when you are just launching a business you need every bit of help you can get. So don’t overlook that loyalty. Make sure it’s rewarded.

Or if you’re a freelancer, do you subcontract work out to other freelancers? When was the last time you rewarded your loyal clients?

We all like to be thanked for what we do, and we all like rewards.

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