By Gloria Lombardi

team 3Reward and recognition packages have long been part of the employer and employee ‘contract’, but in an age when more is demanded of employees, rewards and recognition activities need to keep up with changing employee expectations.

From an employer’s perspective it is, of course, about using rewards (financial and non-financial), as a form of strategic appreciation – to encourage employees to do even better so the company can gain or maintain competitive advantage. HR professionals know that such tangible appreciation is a vital part of their retention strategy.

Employees know all this, and still consider rewards an indication of their worth to the company.

While packages vary depending on the industry and culture, it’s interesting to see how Perkbox approaches reward and recognition in the UK.

Perkbox is on a mission to help companies create tangible links between their teams’ happiness and business productivity. The Perkbox digital platform provides organisations with a mix of perks, rewards, and wellness features to attract, motivate, and retain employees. It is used by some large companies, such as Holland & Barrett, Deliveroo, Jack Wills, Worldpay, and British Gas, as well as SMEs and sole traders.

gautam“Employee engagement has become topical nowadays – not only among HR Directors, but also CEOs and Finance Directors. The UK has the lowest productivity level of the G7, with the exception of Japan,” says Chief Operating Officer at Perkbox, Gautam Sahgal.

He continues, “There is a direct link between engagement and productivity. Employers have started to understand the real costs of disengagement and dissatisfaction – such as the costs of hiring and training new entries. Hence, they are more savvy, and understand that there is an investment required to fix that.”

Perkbox is not just a technology company: “We don’t just deliver the platform. We proactively assist companies in nurturing engagement. We help organisations to deliver, roll out, and monitor the tool which, by using behavioural targeting technology, ensures that workers receive the perks and recognition relevant to them.”

Three levels of employee well-being

Perkbox2Perkbox focuses on three aspects of employee well-being that, according to Sahgal, lead to engagement: financial well-being, physical well-being, and emotional well-being. “If you take care of those three aspects, you are effectively taking care of the whole person.”

The platform provides more than 200 perks to choose from, which “allow your salary to stretch.” Those perks are not necessarily huge, points out Sahgal, “but if you put all of them together, you can save thousands of pounds a year.” For example, free phone insurance, two-for-one meals out in over 6,500 UK restaurants, half price cinema tickets, major discounts on vehicles, and exclusive pricing on Apple products and at supermarkets.

To help teams stay in tip-top condition, Perkbox provides nationwide gym discounts, free online exercise classes, 24/7 helpline access to qualified counsellors and consultants, and a number of different health cover options.

The platform offers a reward and recognition employee network too. “It’s about ensuring employees are recognised for their hard work, good efforts, or just because they are good guys.” Managers can send gifts to their team members, from skydives to shopping vouchers. Or they can applaud great achievements by uploading badges on the Team Feed. This is where teammates can see all the badges that have been sent, read, and like comments, and see where they rank on the leaderboard.

Walking the talk

team 2Since launching in 2010, the company has grown from 30 to more than 100 employees. “Engagement is not really that hard across 30 people: employees are close to the mission of the company, they all know each other, and they typically have friends in the office. But when the headcount grows substantially, people no longer know everybody by name. So, we try to make sure that we have a clear and defined mission.”

To maintain the original startup culture, they created the Perkbox Culture Book, which is filled with all the fun elements that make working at the company unique. The book shows photos from the office as well as stories from the team and partners who describe what constitutes happiness for them and how they view being part of the organisation.

Additionally, the organisation holds regular company-wide events, “so that everybody knows the direction we are going and understands the role they play within the decision processes.”

Perkbox tries to allow people to do what they love. “What you love doing is not necessarily what the company needs. But we try to the full extent to allow people to follow their own path.”

Not surprisingly, every employee uses the Perkbox platform for perks such as free monthly coffees, free movies from Wuaki.TV, childcare vouchers, and the popular yoga sessions in the office!

Perkbox3The same applies to the reward and recognition system. Each manager gets a budget every month which they use to reward their team members when they do an excellent job. Every three months they give awards that are aligned to the company’s values: ‘Work hard, play harder’; ‘Test it, try it, make it happen’; ‘Not a job, a family’; ‘Above and beyond’; and ‘We don’t know it’s impossible.’ Employees have received badges including Sales Superstar, Employee of the Month, Beyond the call of Duty, Champion, Social Butterfly and Nice one!

Current plans – integration

Right now Perkbox is working to integrate its technology with other enterprise tools. The idea is to help companies deliver rewards and recognition in an easy and human way. “We want to let organisations automate rewards and recognition for things like long-service awards, birthdays, exercise, learning and development, or sales performance,” says Sahgal.

Engagement – a top priority

Perkbox4Sahgal doesn’t end the conversation without offering three simple yet useful tips: “The first step to improving your recognition system is understanding that there is a problem. If you have not identified the problem first, then it is very difficult to change anything even with the best technology.”

Secondly, “bring cultural change by understanding that your people should be a top priority in the company. If you get to that point, then you are on a very good path.”

Finally, “figure out how to create the project and how to monitor the results. If you treat engagement as a fluffy project, you get no where”.