In any retail environment, a happy sales staff makes for more pleasant workdays. “If morale is high, employees feel that the boss cares about them and cares about the quality of the work they’re doing,” says David Javitch, president of consulting firm Javitch Associates. “The higher those things are, the higher the profitability and worker-customer satisfaction.”
But the road to high spirits is paved with misconceptions, says Bob Nelson, author of 1,501 Ways to Reward Employees. The biggest, he says, is the idea that a bigger paycheck yields greater employee satisfaction. Instead, Nelson suggests creating “an experience to help bond the group. Those are the things that mean the most to employees.”
Who couldn’t use a little R&R?
Consider taking staffers to a movie lunch, bringing in a masseuse to dispense 30-minute massages, or hosting a potluck dinner at your home, says Nelson. “Something fun and food always works,” adds Javitch.
Perks aren’t always extracurricular.
Don’t overlook the many day-to-day opportunities to make employees feel special. “Asking someone their opinion is a big motivator,” says Nelson. As is “supporting [them] when they make a mistake and involving them in a decision that affects them.”
Bonuses are great morale boosters—in the short term.
If used, Javitch suggests they be accompanied by “opportunities for employees to feel that they’re being recognized for doing good work.”
Reward your staffers thoughtfully and sensitively.
“If you give a preferred parking spot to someone who takes a bus, that’s not going to be effective,” says employee engagement specialist David Zinger. “If you are going to use perks, why not go to the staff and say, ‘Hey, what types of things do you want?’?”
Perks don’t have to be big.
Zinger’s trademark phrase is The small is the new significant. Think about “touching base with each of your employees every day,” he says. “Sometimes we confuse small with being insignificant.”
A version of this story originally appeared in the September 2013 issue of JCK magazine.