Part-time, temporary and contract workers slip through the cracks too often and don’t always get the recognition they deserve. They’re easy to overlook — typically they work odd hours, fewer hours, out in the field or from home, and as a result are not as well known to management and to their permanent, full-time peers.
But their numbers are growing, and it isn’t necessarily by choice. The size of the part-time workforce in the U.S. jumped during the 2008 recession, and full-time hiring doesn’t appear to be picking back up, according to research overseen by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and reported earlier this year in the New York Times.
“Basically all of the growth in part-time workers has been among people reluctantly working few hours because of either slack business conditions or an inability to find a full-time job. Together these people are considered to be working part time ‘for economic reasons.’ Their numbers have grown by 3.4 million since the downturn began,” Catherine Rampell writes in the Times’ Economix blog.
At the same time, part-timers and temp workers also play a vital role in many business operations, from the retired grandmother who shares her maturity and expertise as a part-time retail cashier to the seasonal employees who help a company meet consumer demands and weather the busy holiday season.
Collectively referred to as “contingent” employees, part-time, temporary and contract workers will appreciate knowing how much they’re valued at your organization, even if they’re outside the box of what’s considered “normal” employment.
Most significantly — and simply — the first step toward effective recognition for contingent workers is to treat them the way you want them to act. A contingent worker treated as a cast off to be discarded at the end of the season, or as a temporary solution to a long-term need, will act accordingly.
“If you want part-time employees to have a long-term perspective, treat them with a long-term perspective. Talk about where they want to be in five years, for example, or what skills they are interested in learning,” advises author Bob Nelson at Workforce.com. Encouraging contingent workers to take initiative and offering the training they need will empower them, give them a sense of ownership and motivate them to be more dedicated to their work.
Think of the future. That contract worker today may turn out to be an invaluable resource and worth hiring full-time down the road. And the more seasonal workers you have returning year after year, the better prepared and knowledgeable your workforce will be.
For your older employees who may be coming out of retirement to work part-time or on a contract basis, Incentive Magazine recommends encouraging cross-generational innovation: “Each generation has its own perspective on products and services. Cross-pollinate ideas by utilizing the diversity in the workplace, and develop innovative products and services.” This goes for all contingent workers. Invite their input, and you may be surprised by their ideas and innovation.
Nelson, author of 1001 Ways to Take Initiative at Work, also recommends including part-time workers in the same activities as their full-time counterparts, such as department meetings and social events. Consider throwing a special holiday party for contingent workers who work from home or at off hours, or do it at a time when everyone can partake. “Everyone — especially part-timers — needs and wants to feel a part of the team,” he writes.
Bottom line: never underestimate the power of saying “Thank You.” Just as everyone wants to feel a part of the team, everyone craves recognition. Often it’s as simple as saying these two words, backed by a heartfelt and specific compliment. And, there is no better time than now to share your gratitude.
To learn more about effective workplace recognition, download our FREE eBook, “The Ultimate Guide to Employee Gift-Giving” by clicking the image below.
A new study has shown that employees are increasingly favoring virtual rewards for employee recognition over those which come with a specific dollar value, according to research by gamification platform Badgeville, and employee motivation company Make Their Day!
What are Virtual Rewards?
Virtual rewards are ways of providing employee recognition without using financial incentives, and they’re currently thriving in companies nationwide. Virtual rewards can come in many forms, including but not limited to:
- Praise and recognition from an immediate manager or peers
- Opportunities for growth – such as leading a team
- A better title/more responsibilities in the workplace
- Reward for achieving workplace goals
- Just plain fun!
Virtual rewards are often used through gamification; a process gaining popularity using the principles of game play in a non-game application. BunchBall provides a useful white paper on Gamification 101, if you are new to all this. Out of the employees surveyed, 88 percent said they find virtual recognition from their managers “extremely motivating”.
The report’s findings showed that 83 percent of employees felt that they got more satisfaction from recognition at work than particular rewards of monetary value. Not only that, but 71 percent claimed the most meaningful recognition they’d ever received cost nothing at all!
Cindy Ventrice, president of Make Their Day! and author of ‘Make Their Day! Employee Recognition That Works’ says: “The value of non-tangible recognition is clearly identified in our findings. Workplace technology today, such as gamification, provides many new opportunities for non-tangible recognition. With nearly one-fifth of meaningful recognition being delivered virtually, it is clear that these methods can be effective.”
According to Incentive Magazine, the research showed 70 percent of employees found rewards meaningful to them even though they did not come with a monetary price tag – that’s an increase of 57 percent from six years ago.
“It’s about status and employee recognition. They are giving meaningful virtual rewards for exceptional work. They deliver what employees and consumers actually want, which is emotional reward”, stated Gabe Zichermann, founder of Gamification Corp.
The study was conducted using responses from over 1,200 workers from a diverse range of industries to establish what drives and motivates them to perform well in the workplace.
Cryptocurrency for Employees
Perhaps you’ve heard of Bitcoin? It’s already been adopted by many merchants, and now companies are beginning to explore the possibility of using this cryptocurrency (digital currency) as a kind of reward system for employees.
One company, called Recognize, has already created a mobile app supporting Bitcoin as an alternative way to reward workers.
Mario Herger, the enterprise gamification scheme’s designer and Austrian Innovation Center’s CEO based in Silicon Valley, said: “Tangible rewards like money can lead to disengagement.”
He went on to say: “Yet, there are a lot of scientific examples where giving people money rewards other than salary means that people are interested in going the last mile.”
That’s why Bitcoin seems to be one solution; it’s not really money, but it works well, if not better.
A Tool to Add to Your Recognition Program
Virtual rewards are proving a great way to yield satisfied and motivated employees in the workplace, so why not consider adding virtual rewards to your recognition program today?
Ken Comee, CEO of Badgeville said: “The results of the Make Their Day! study aligns to what we’ve seen across our customers deploying gamification solutions for workplace engagement, as well as numerous reports over the last few years on the changing face of what motivates employees today. Workers of all ages, especially the rising millennial population, are motivated by real-time feedback, fun, engaging work environments, and status-based recognition over tangible rewards.”
Remember, personal recognition by management should never be eliminated by virtual rewards. Instead, think of virtual rewards as an additional way to motivate and positively engage with employees within your company; and as a tool that’s particularly valuable for engaging millennials.
Does your company currently use virtual rewards? How do they work in your workplace?
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