REVEALED: Five cash-free employee incentives

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What sort of non-financial reward has the motive power to reach into the hearts and minds of your most-treasured team members? Luxury Academy suggests five incentives to get you started — along with some gift-wrapping hints

Staff incentives come in many guises, from performance-related rises to annual bonuses.

Fair pay for an honest day’s work lies at the heart of the employer-employee transaction and although money undoubtedly talks, it’s probably fair to say that its language lacks nuance.

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Nor does it have the kind of staying power we’d all like; a bonus or a rise is quickly absorbed, and its lustre soon fades.

If we want to keep our best people loyal and motivated, growing the business and growing within it, then we need to think beyond the payroll and the purse.

Today’s employees value nonmonetary rewards because these reach the places that straightforward financial incentives don’t.

Think of the difference between being presented with an armful of flowers and being given the funds to go out and buy a bunch.

The right incentive stands for more than a contract between employer and employee; it represents the pact between them.

For all that, it’s important that these incentives are given careful thought and are presented thoughtfully.

No employee wants to feel that they’ve been thrown a sop, or that their reward for all their hard work lacks meaning.

1. A promising future
Training is the gift that keeps on giving. It points to a future within the hotel, opening up possibilities for new roles, greater responsibility, and more autonomy. It speaks of a larger investment in the employee, and mutual benefit; the staff member acquires more skills while the organisation gains a more motivated and highly-trained individual who is more likely to contribute to the success of the hotel — and to want to contribute to it.
The wrapping: Develop a long-term training plan collaboratively with the team member. Find out their aspirations, interests, and the direction they want their career to take. The investment is mutual; there’s no better proof of that than a conversation about career development.

2. Time
It is the one commodity in reliably short supply, and there’s nothing we can do to increase our stock of it.
What we can do is give a little more of it as a reward in the form of extra annual leave or a day off in recognition of a particularly sterling effort during a challenging busy period, or for performance above and beyond expectations.
How to gift-wrap time: Tell the employee personally that they are being awarded more time off, and why that is, and confirm it in writing. It should then be up to the employee when they take the extra time, within reason.

3. New shoes
Your star employees are already shining brightly, more than capable of meeting the demands of their role. Offer them experiences outside of their usual responsibilities by letting them fill other shoes if they want to. This is a good way to call forth hidden talents, discover unspoken ambitions, and reward your top employees with a varied, more satisfying and more rounded working day.
Finishing touches: This is best offered as part of a continuing development programme and should offer staff more than a momentary glimpse into another part of the hotel. Talk to your team members to find out what other areas of the hotel they want to know more about, perhaps with a view to moving up or diversifying later in their careers.

4. Say thank you
It’s surprising how little this is heard. It’s surprising how much it can mean.
Thanks come in many shades, but the one most people experience is the casual, workaday, half-heard thanks. For thanks to be a reward, we should be clear about what we mean when we say it, and to be sure that the recipient of our thanks remembers how it was said, and why.
The trimmings: Thanks can be a handwritten note. Thanks can be said in ceremony, with flowers. Thanks can be simply expressed in time set aside for that very purpose. A well-crafted, sincerely-expressed thank you has an excellent shelf-life — quite possibly longer than the pay rise you’re planning to award this year.

5. Their name in lights
Recognition puts a spring in the step, lifts the chin and raises self-esteem. Recognition inspires, motivates and energises. We can’t help it — we’re human after all, and acknowledgement that our contribution has been noticed and that it has made a difference is irresistible. For this to be a reward, however, it needs to come to more than a passing comment. Formalise recognition in whatever way suits your hotel’s culture. A wall of fame is one way; a letter of appreciation copied to senior management is another. Try to include as much detail as possible of the performance that warranted this attention, and make it a matter of formal, written appreciation that stays on file.
Ribbons and bows: Don’t let too much time elapse between the reward and the effort. However hectic the schedule, invest the time in writing the letter and deliver it in person. If there’s a wall of fame, make sure it’s up to date with the latest heroes and the story of their deeds.

For more motivational tips visit www.luxuryacademy.co.uk

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