In today’s workforce, five generations, from traditionalists and baby boomers to millennials, work side by side, making it important for organizations to create an inclusive culture that meets the varying needs of each generation. It seems like everyone has their own opinion on how to make culture great and no doubt, crafting an organizational culture is a daunting task.
So, what do you think can be most correctly referred to as shaping the DNA of a company? Visions, values, business goals; while these are correct answers but rewards and recognition is that one important element which cannot be missed by your organization if you want to develop a culture as the ‘intangible glue’ that binds all employees together. Timely recognition can positively impact your company culture, not to mention business output.
A study by Bersin and Associates found that employee engagement, productivity, and customer service levels are 14% better in companies where recognition occurs, and companies that actively recognize their employees have 31% lower voluntary turnover rates than their peers.
Maybe you believe that rewards and recognition ideas are a dime a dozen. But the fact is not all of them create lasting impressions. You’ll have a stronger, more successful program if you focus on those ideas that stand out in employees’ minds, now and in the future. And experiences make excellent rewards.
Experiential rewards (like learning a new language, going skydiving, or taking a family getaway) change the feelings of appreciation among employees, positively impact their motivation levels, and add contentment to their plans of staying at your company. That’s the power of a memorable experience. The possibilities are endless! Among many things why experiences are more valuable and impactful than any other type of rewards, here are our top three.
1. Experiential rewards although by nature are short-lived but create healthy long-term happiness
From a meal at a fancy restaurant to a luxury vacation to skydiving, experiences top the list of memorable rewards. This is because experiences can engage all the senses and create an emotional reaction that you can’t get from, say, a cash bonus or other material rewards. Although these moments last for a few minutes, but because they are so in-frequent, we tend to cherish and appreciate them more.
On the other end, the excitement stimulated from new gadgets/clothes tends to fade away quickly into the background with the mind’s adaptation of consistently having them around. In essence, an experiential reward is an event that an employee earns, whereas one gets only immediate gratification from the tangible material rewards. Interestingly, it has been found that experiences also correlate with the traits associated with higher motivation such as openness and reward-seeking. Giving your employees the gift of positive experience associates their enjoyment with your company, which increases happiness more than any monetary reward.
2. We enjoy telling stories
Above all, experiences help to create stories which are inherently shareable. The human brain is wired to compose, remember, and share stories. And so, a reward or a recognition ceremony that lends itself to a story is more likely to be shared and remembered. Who would not find it interesting and comfortable to share stories about a recent vacation, a hand-pottery or night-trekking experience, vs. their last purchase? The stories that a unique or indulgent experience can generate, might even become a part of your organization’s lore, gaining a life far beyond the actual award itself.
And in fact, experiences also offer high social currency, photos or videos for social accounts of the millennial workforce. Studies show that millennials prefer experiences over consumer goods. And with 50 percent of your workforce poised to being millennials in a few years, switching to experiential rewards is a step in the right direction.
"Buying an Apple watch isn’t going to change who you are, taking a break from work to hike the Valley Of Flowers trail from start to finish most certainly will."
3. Experiential rewards are personal and become part of our identity
One size never fits all and therefore you need experiential rewards. We all are unique and if you want to show your employees that you really care for them, you need to make recognition personal. Because earning a recognition means more, when it’s exclusive. Experiential rewards that resonate with their interests, hobbies, or that help them check something off their bucket list are a great way of expressing that you value the work that they individually contributed to.
In fact, experiential rewards can help your people position their personal character and can become a catalyst for bonding at the workplace, especially when forming new relationships. Think how easy it would be for a geek who likes to go on foodie tours to strike a conversation with a finance guy who likes to go on kayaking trips if they can share their stories of memorable experiences which their organization rewarded them. Gallup shared that employees with work besties are 27% more likely to feel that their job is important. Also, study shows that there exists a multiplier dynamic associated with sharing experiences. It can spark other neurochemicals, particularly those related to happiness and goal-seeking, which is an added benefit for any organization’s turnover.
So what should be your next step?
True appreciation means feeling valued for your ideas, your opinion, your work, and your sacrifice. Try recognizing your employees in a new way, and see the difference it makes in your workplace and culture. Build positive experiences into your team’s workday everywhere you can.
Consider offering individual experiences, or team building events and off-sites for the whole group. Experiences have a larger positive effect on sustainable growth and happiness than material rewards.
Check out Xoxoday's Experiences Section and allow us to help you in thanking your employees.