Jess Young: Is employee engagement missing the little things?

Several years ago, I was responsible for implementing a new benefits package at a large university. Take-up was on par with others in the sector, and the initial outlay was relatively small. Management were delighted, but I couldn’t help feeling I’d missed something.

Despite sharing plenty of case studies in the launch and follow-up of people using it to save on their weekly shop, reduce their commuting costs and save for their pension pot, when I drilled into the statistics it seemed the greatest interest was for luxury handbags and the monthly deep discount deals. What had I missed?

As great as it is to get a tenner off your weekly shop, what people actually seemed to care about was the thrill of getting a standout deal or bagging (excuse the pun) a little luxury in life.

Call it living in the moment or hedonic wellbeing, as it is described in academic research, seeking out experiences that give us pleasure and gratification in the moment is one way we increase our level of happiness.

So, I applaud the e-thank you cards and small tokens of appreciation for good work some benefits systems offer up; these, if done in a genuine, authentic way, are a useful way for line managers to connect to their team, creating positive feelings which pay dividends in many ways.

We know that connection with the line is a core plank of engagement and one that needs constant nurturing, but, when building a business case for implementing a new benefits initiative it is all too easy to focus on the bottom line numbers, ignoring the goodwill a simple positive feeling can generate.

Jess Young is communications hub co-ordinator at Engage for Success