Remember when a stocked fridge and pool table in the break room were the coolest perks for employees?
Now it’s a different game when it comes to motivating, incentivizing and rewarding employees. What kind of perks and benefits can excite employees – who either work remotely or socially distanced?
“High fives and kudos around the water cooler just don’t work any more,” says Jeff Cates, CEO of Achievers. “But remember, people want to feel safe and secure, according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. After that, people need support.”
And those are things HR can still offer.
It’s especially important now that working from home can feel more like living at work!
Here are four proven ways to motivate, reward and incentivize employees in this new era of distanced work.
Recognize changes; reward to them
Most employees have powered through the pandemic in unprecedented circumstances. They’ve worked in conditions no one ever imagined – perhaps surrounded by needy kids, noisy neighbors and meandering pets. Or masked among socially distanced co-workers worried all the time about health, safety and normalcy.
So the perk that stands out now: flexibility. “Recognize the environment they have to be in,” Cates says. “Measure on output, not input at a certain time. Let them do what works.”
Then recognize good work with fitting rewards such as Uber Eats credit.
Remind, encourage time off
Similarly, leaders want to remind employees of the perks they’ve always had, but may not be using: time off, vacation, opportunities to socialize with colleagues.
“Initially, employees just pored themselves into work with no commute, no water cooler talk,” Cates says. “It’s not sustainable.”
Yet, nearly a third of employees said they’ll take fewer days off this year or will postpone vacations, a Robert Half survey found.
Too much work, and no play, hurts morale and productivity.
Encourage employees to step away and take days off. Offer time off – when possible – as a perk.
Tweak current benefits, perks
Adjust benefits and teambuilding activities you already offered.
For instance, Teampay, a Manhattan software company, had a popular healthy snack bar, and a more popular unhealthy snack bar onsite, plus free coffee and cool hangouts. They brought in lunch and guest speakers, and hosted weekly “demos and drinks” for fun.
When they couldn’t offer those perks and benefits, they adjusted, moving the speakers and demos online and giving employees a $20-a-week delivery stipend to order food and/or drinks.
Include the fam
Most perks and benefits were aimed to motivate employees at work (because, after all, you wanted an engaged, productive team on site).
Now companies have had success in offering benefits and perks that involve families so employees can take the benefit at home or use it onsite.
For instance, one provider – Burnalong – offers group and one-on-one fitness and wellness classes employees and their family members can tap into from home. They’ve also offered summer virtual camps and pet workout.
Even better, these family-focused perks feed the employees’ top needs Cates mentioned: safety, security and support.