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Want to Build a Happier Employee Experience? Think Non-Financial Incentives

Those companies that prioritise money as the sole incentive to employees often fail to realise that doing so will make it easier for their market competitors to lure their best talents with more money. Having a bouquet of non-financial incentives is closely related to the feeling of being valued in an organisation, making the workforce find a sense of purpose in their work.

Let them pursue personal goals during sabbaticals

Many employees continue to pursue career options while compromising what matters to them on the personal front. Either passion projects don't pay well or measures of success do not allow high time investment in these. This can lead to disengagement but few employers actually realise this. Those that do, often offer sabbaticals as part of their employee value proposition (EVP). As part of this, employees can choose to retain their jobs and opt for a long leave, sometimes extending to a year, to pursue their passions, right from teaching, volunteering in community development, to undertaking difficult treks or learning a foreign language. Though many companies resist implementing sabbaticals, it's important to note that organisations who see the value of sabbaticals as an option, ensure promptness in cross-training talents from other teams and creating back-ups to minimise any damage caused due to the absence of a team member.

Reward them health and happiness

Demanding projects and long hours often make employees compromise on their health. It is not a rare sight for people to munch on high-calorie, low-nutrition snacks to energise themselves during the workday and, at times, even after an exhausting day. Companies can use this time and energy lag to prepare nutritious meals as an opportunity to extend a show of gratitude. Employers can arrange for in-house meal plans for those working for extended hours and even pack for their family members so that they could enjoy a meal immediately after returning home. Companies also incorporate programs like Zensday when once a week people are expected to perform 5-6 hours of deep work and devote 2-3 hours to wellness such as leaving early from work to attend to family functions, taking a creative class to learn something new, or just calling it an early night. Such mid-week breaks rejuvenate employees and give them much-needed respite.

Give them what they want but won’t buy

One of the key disadvantages of financial rewards is that people rarely get to ‘feel’ those rewards. People end up spending reward/bonus money on buying more practical things. To help your people experience the reward that they deserve, it can help to offer personalised, customised gifts based on their interests - something they would not buy themselves in an effort to save money. These can be perks such as premium roasted coffee to a caffeine lover, a gym membership for a fitness enthusiast or premium seats to a play for theatre-lovers. Many companies use this strategy to recognize employees when they complete a long tenure in the firm. However, these can also be embedded in regular R&R programs to keep talent motivated at their jobs and let them know how the company makes effort to give them what they would not buy.

There are some companies that acknowledge how culture drives everything, and if they take care of their people, their people will take care of business. Google is one such name. The global tech giant consistently makes an effort to satisfy the needs of its employees beyond the usual monetary paycheck. Companies need to realise the importance of recognizing their employees and compensating them in more than just one way. Incentives need to be relevant and have a high perceived value in the eyes of the receiver. With a combination of financial and non-financial incentives, a company can open up new opportunities when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent.