My Grandfather worked for a railroad company in Northern Minnesota for much of my young life. It was considered a very good job. The stories of Poppy’s railroad work remain a legendary part of our family’s oral history.
He retired after 25+ years on the job. Along the way, he was given traditional service awards. Treasured were his gold pocket watch, and bronzed locomotive plaque.
Times, of course, have changed. Gone are the service awards of my Poppy’s day. Often by choice, employees don’t stay with one company long enough to earn a reward based on years and years of service. The next generation of workers in a recent survey from I Love Rewards says they really don’t plan on sticking with one job that long:
“The average job seeker according to the survey wants to stay with their first employer for 8.9 years, but the reality is that students only stay an average of 1.5 years according to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employers have a real opportunity to save money in the long term by investing in robust retention strategies in order to keep this group engaged,” says I Love Rewards CEO and founder Razor Suleman.
This survey indicates that employees today need rewards early and often:
“…they don’t care about years-of-service awards, which 91 per cent of companies offer.”
Companies have a real opportunity to create a new paradigm in their employee reward (and retention) programs. Here’s a blueprint to get you started:
- Implement and keep a program that reflects your company’s values. In her Work with Me column, Detroit Free Press workplace reporter Patricia Montemurri recently wrote on the decline of company recognition programs. Victims of tough economic times, these programs hold real value. Don’t cut, experts say.
- Establish rewards that are given regular intervals. Earlier is better, according to Montemurri’s column:
“Instead of waiting decades to recognize employees, it’s becoming more popular to acknowledge an employee’s one-year anniversary — perhaps with a token gift such as a titanium flashlight or a pen and pencil set. If you keep somebody and train them well, and recognize them during the first year, you’ve got a better chance of keeping them on the second year,” according to Anthony Luciano of TharpeRobbin
- In addition to these regularly scheduled rewards, it’s a real motivational boost to recognize special effort of teams of employees or individuals with tokens that are meaningful.
Employers may not get much chance to hand out gold pocket watches any more, but there is ample opportunity and reason to recognize achievement and service in the workplace. Your company’s success may depend on it.
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