Canadian Contractor

John Bleasby   

How to motivate your employees – beyond coffees and beers

Canadian Contractor

Employee incentives and rewards should be a year-round program

As a contractor, your production is only as good as the production of your crews and trades.

Are you doing anything to motivate them? Beyond buying them coffees… or after work beers?

“Rewards are in the eye of the beholder,” says one HR expert. As an employer, your job is to find what “beholds.”

You might see nap pods and basketball hoops in the employee lounges of Apple, Microsoft and Google. But in the residential construction industry, who has time for that? And can you really afford splashy incentive programs?

Employees value trust and autonomy. Micro-managing their every move will not lead to loyalty.

Employees value trust and autonomy. Micro-managing their every move will not lead to loyalty.

One leading employee leadership expert says that a culture of trust, collaboration and customer focus can be achieved through non-monetary means. In a small or medium-sized contracting business, that might result in thinking that is outside the traditional Christmas party and year-end bonus.

Carl Greenberg, Ph. D., founder of Pragmatic HR, suggests that although not everyone wants to be the boss, every employee worth keeping wants to be better at what they do and to be appreciated for what they do. Providing opportunities for personal and professional improvement is a relatively easy and low-cost way to show your good team members how much that development means to you and your business.

Develop teamwork from within
Another expert observes that offering more autonomy to employees demonstrates trust, and that supervisors do not need  to be looking over their shoulders at all times. Also, consistently communicating corporate objectives to employees, the “Why” of the company’s mission, is also important. Open discussions of these objectives, and their success and failure in specific circumstances, will result in candour, which can then result in great feedback for the top management.

Ten things to create enhanced motivation that don’t cost a lot of cash
Certainly money is a great incentive, particularly if tied to specific goals and successes. But there is much more company owners can do that don’t cost that much in cash. Here is a short list of ideas that might be considered, depending on company size, structure and specific role in the contracting industry.

  1. Help your employees learn. Send them to supplier-sponsored training programmes or trade shows so they can learn about the latest products and techniques.
  2. Say ‘Thank you’ in a hand written note when an employee exceeds expectations. Put a formal letter of appreciation in their personal work file.
  3. Sponsor their membership in a trade organisation of their choice.
  4. Buy them a upgraded office chair or other piece of furniture.
  5. Provide some one-on-one mentoring and feedback time.
  6. Consider giving them an improved job title.
  7. Celebrate the anniversary of their joining the company.
  8. Stock the company fridge with drinks your employees actually like.
  9. Remember birthdays with a cake.
  10. Provide a catered lunch for the entire office staff once a month.

A valuable employee wants to be empowered and stimulated, wants to learn, and wants to be appreciated. As a company owner or supervisor, the time you invest discovering what rewards and incentives work for your people will help you develop a team that is motivated to work harder and better.

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