Feature – Focus on motivation: Email reliance derails recognition

Tools like email are in danger of replacing personal recognition, and using smaller group sizes in motivational schemes could prove more effective, says Nick Golding

If you read nothing else, read this …

The intranet can cause management to become complacent when it comes to motivating employees.

By dividing up a large workforce into small manageable sections, more personalised motivation schemes are easier to administer.

Employers should ensure the intranet is used to communicate to and not reward employees.

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While the immeasurable advantages of the internet can not be ignored, it is possible that such technology has caused some negative side effects in relation to benefits, prompting management to become lazy when it comes to motivating staff.

Making reward vouchers available via the internet or intranet and sending a quick email to say ‘well done’ could spell the end of the traditional pat on the back.

However, organisations are becoming wise to what is at stake here and are looking to regain the personal touch. Nick Wake, head of marketing communications at Grass Roots, points out: "There is no substitute for your boss saying ‘cracking job there’, as it is this pat on the back that helps put the spring back into the employee’s step. Organisations are aware of the way the intranet breeds complacency and we are always working with management to put that personal touch back into the office."

However, he also admits that complacency is an easy trap to fall into, especially when firms are trying to administer the personal touch to a large number of employees.

"The internet is not only a major part of our lives, it is also terribly convenient, especially within a company of 10,000 employees. It can be almost impossible to give the personal touch to all employees."

One company which has always made every effort to ensure there are no electronic barriers between staff and management is soft drinks company Innocent. Ailana Kamelmacher, head of PR, explains: "It’s all about being creative at Innocent. We don’t have loads of money to give out but we listen to what our employees want and personalise schemes via these requests. It’s really about showing you care."

Innocent appears to have created a corporate culture of one big happy family by encouraging all employees to participate in motivational schemes, such as baking each other cakes on birthdays, making each other tea and having breakfast together each morning.

However, Innocent has just 100 employees, which makes schemes like home-made birthday cakes, and staff outings easier to implement, manage and ensure 100% participation.

But Kamelmacher agrees that such motivation schemes are often easier to put in place when there are small numbers, but if properly organised can be used in companies of any size. "All management need to do in large companies is section off the workforce, break them down into sizeable chunks and create personalised schemes within these sections."

Graham Povey, director of Capital Incentives, believes that if used properly the intranet can also help companies with the task of motivation. It is when the intranet is misused that the danger of losing the personalised approach to reward emerges, he says.

"The important distinction that must be made when looking at the intranet and benefits is that it is a communication tool, not a reward tool. Sales incentives and sales results can be posted on the intranet for all employees to access, but rewards must be handed to staff in person."