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BizReport : Internet : December 01, 2017

Marketers: Why happy employees are key to success

You've heard the expression 'happy wife, happy life'. In business, that expression could be modified to 'happy employee, strong revenue line'. Unfortunately, some marketers are missing out on how to build loyal - and happy - employees, and this could be hurting end of year success. Read on for tips on keeping employees happy, bottom lines healthy, and everything on-brand.

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: Employee bonuses and holiday gifts are considered a 'must do' these days - how can brands ensure these gifts reinforce their business mission/goals?

Mackenzie Kyle, Managing Partner, BC Advisory Services, MNP: Unfortunately, that 'must do' perspective is how many organization's now view bonuses or gifts during the holidays. Which means they're giving out these incentives without any clear ties to specific results or behaviours on the part of the individual team members.

The evolution of many organizations' thinking about things like holiday bonuses has resulted in the perspective that these types of things are simply 'required' because it's the time of year to be nice to everybody.

Kristina: Can these incentives leave employees feeling badly? Why?

Mackenzie: Short answer is yes, although the level of 'bad' will likely vary. For those employees who felt that they worked hard and contributed above and beyond their peers, seeing fellow team members who did not perform at a high level also getting rewarded can be very demotivating. Handing out holiday bonuses or gifts on an equal basis is a bit like an elementary school track meet where the teacher gives everyone a participant ribbon; the kids know who won the race, and it can create a range of emotions from disheartened to angry on the part of the individuals who are higher achievers.

While 'bad' may not exactly describe their feelings, employees that do not achieve at a high level, but get the benefit of the same holiday bonus as everyone else may feel that they are justified in working less hard ("if everyone gets rewarded no matter how hard they work, why work hard?"), they may feel scorn for the company ("Is my boss not very smart? Or does the organization just not care about how hard I work?"), and are unlikely to find the practice of rewards-without-results to be motivating. At best, they will be confused by the process.

The concept of 'charity' is a noble concept, but when applied to a work setting, it can have significant unintended consequences.

Kristina: How can businesses avoid this?

Mackenzie: Set clear expectations for behaviour and productivity during the holidays. Nothing is worse than pretending it's business as usual when in fact times are slower, and people have to make an effort to appear busy. Instead, engage the team in planning in the November time frame, work with them to set some quantifiable goals for what needs to be accomplished over the holidays, goals that reflect a realistic level of effort, and talk with each team member about what that means they'll be doing during that time frame. Then manage the group to those expectations. Accomplishing these realistic goals becomes a motivator for the team, and leads to a sense of satisfaction, rather than disappointment at what didn't happen.

Remember: keeping a team engaged and motivated is a long-term process, not something to think about once a year. In the same way we shouldn't wait for the holidays to treat our fellow human beings with respect and kindness, we can't think about our motivation and engagement strategy as existing only in a particular time frame. Although it may be different depending on the circumstances the calendar brings, it needs to be a coherent strategy that is implemented throughout the year.

Tags: advertising, advertising employees, employee happiness, how to keep employees happy, MNP

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